But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Sometimes life leaves our heads spinning and stomachs turning. Some experience or event has caught us off guard, and we are left “shell shocked.” We don’t know if we are coming or going. Such times can seem overwhelming to us as we ponder how we can go forward.
After Gabriel’s promise of God’s grace and presence, Mary is perplexed by his greeting. What did it all mean? The word perplexed in the original language means to “agitate.” Now when I think of something agitating, I immediately think of a washing machine. Once the clothes are loaded and the tank is filled with water, then the machine begins to agitate. The agitator inside turns the water and the clothes while pulling the clothing down deeper into the water. This goes on for some time until the cycle shifts, the agitation stops, and water the drains.
I imagine Mary felt like an article of clothing in a washing machine. She is perplexed as life has suddenly begun to agitate in the most unexpected way. Luke tells us she begins to ponder what kind of greeting she has just received. What will it mean for her life going forward? So many questions were now swirling around inside of her.
We, too, sometimes find ourselves in situations where we feel as though we are tossing and turning and neck-deep in water. How often have we agitated all night while trying to sleep because something weighed heavy on our hearts and minds? Sleepless nights can show up anytime as we wrestle with what to do next in our lives.
Discerning God’s will for our lives is not always clear-cut. More often than not, we will have to do some agitating. Biblically we might call it wrestling with God like Jacob did that night in the wilderness in the book of Genesis. Discernment may lead us to question a lot of things, even God. We may be entangled in doubt and fear as we seek to make sense out of our lives. Yet, we do not need to feel guilty. Discerning God’s will can be complicated. The good news is that God doesn’t mind that we wrestle with him. In fact, wrestling with God often leads to an even stronger faith.
Mary would need strong faith as she moved forward in God’s plan to redeem the world through her. God has a plan for our lives as well, and it takes faith to learn what that plan is. Like Mary, we can trust that God has thought things through, even as we begin to discern what God is asking.
Prayer: Lord, show us the way even as we find ourselves perplexed in what you are doing.