Then said Mary unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34)
Mary’s question articulates the fundamental challenge of faith. Her question can be restated as “Will God intervene to accomplish what is humanly impossible?”
Faith is invoked when we look to God to accomplish what seems undoable. And that was precisely what Mary did when she asked, “How shall this be…?”.
Mary wasn’t disputing Gabriel’s message, she was simply acknowledging that there was no independently human way by which the prophecy could be fulfilled. She wasn’t voicing unwillingness, she was expressing her own incapacity. She wasn’t declaring doubt, she was declaring the need for divine intervention.
The challenge of faith is waiting on God to do the incomprehensible. Faith demands that we dispense with human logic and trust God to do what cannot humanly be accomplished.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith transitions us from the physical world to the spiritual world. Physically, a virgin birth was impossible, but spiritually it was possible: God isn’t limited by the laws of the physical universe. God is bigger than that. Mary, however, was limited by the physical world and she needed God’s intervention to live out God’s will for her life.
Like Mary, God calls on His children to do things that are beyond their abilities: things that are unattainable without His intervention. Faith happens when we call on Him and wait on Him to intervene: when we depend on Him to lift us beyond our limitations: when we confess that we can’t get there without Him.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
And God sent Jesus, born in a manger to die on a cross, to do what we could not do for ourselves. God sent Jesus to do the most impossible thing of all: to redeem us from the curse of sin.
God intervened to do what was humanly impossible. Will we put our faith in Him? Mary did.