How Can This Be?!


Things don’t always make sense in the journey of faith. In fact, we are often faced with things that flat out baffle our human understanding and test our faith to its extreme limits.

This was Mary’s experience when the angel came to tell her that God chose her to have His baby (Luke 1:26-38). Can you imagine?! She was just a teenager, newly engaged, dreaming of her future and likely full of fresh, young-bride hope. 

Until the One Who would be crushed for humanity’s sin crushed her dreams. She would bear a child out of wedlock and become the scorn of her community. She faced the possibility of losing her promised husband. She had to face the fears of so many unknowns, and the weight of impending, heart-crushing sorrows as she raised the One Who would be rejected by the world He came to save.

What would be good news to the world was not good news for her – at least as far as she could understand.

Indeed, “How can this be?”

Is it possible that God could, or would, lead us into such painful, difficult circumstances?

Joseph’s story (Genesis 37-50) is tragic, but we know it ended in beauty, just like Mary’s. Although Joseph endured the trauma of rejection, betrayal, slavery, and imprisonment, God raised him up through it and restored him at the end of it.

But what about his father’s side of the story? What about the grief and confusion he must have struggled with, after sending his son on a routine errand, only to have him ripped away and reportedly killed? For 13 years, I can only imagine the thoughts that must have haunted him. 

How could God let this happen? Why?! Should I have done something different? How could I have protected him from this? God, I thought you were our protection and our defense?! Didn’t I obey You? Didn’t I raise him up to know you? 

“How can this be?”

Only silence greeted his aching heart for all those years.

Until the day God’s plans became clear. Then, the ashes of all those years were washed away in a flood of grateful, heart-bursting tears. Unexpected, unimaginable joy, for those who had carried deep, bone-crushing sorrow for a time appointed by the One Whose wisdom we cannot always understand. 

I am walking through a season of pit-like torments. I wrestle often with the question of “How can this be?” The unfathomable has come to steal my joy, to crush my hope, to rob me of the will to believe. As I sometimes fight to shut out the reality I am standing in, and sometimes yield my heart to embrace it, the details seem like far too much to bear. 

I can relate to Mary’s bewilderment, to Joseph’s despair, and to Joseph’s father’s grief.

I can also relate to their resolve, which had to have been empowered by the grace of the God Who led them into such perplexing circumstances.

Mary’s response to the angel reminds me that my yes to God cannot change when the assignment is hard to understand, and even harder to embrace:

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38 

Joseph’s determination to wait and trust, rather than run and rebel against his unfair lot reminds me that God grows strong character through the soil of adversity:

“God kept crops from growing until food was scarce everywhere in the land. But he had already sent Joseph, sold as a slave into Egypt, with chains of iron around his legs and neck. Joseph remained a slave until his own words had come true, and the Lord had finished testing him. Then the king of Egypt set Joseph free and put him in charge of everything he owned. Joseph was in command of the officials, and he taught the leaders how to use wisdom.” Psalm 105:16-22 (CEV)

Joseph’s father’s will to keep living, and to surrender to God’s bewildering ways, despite the worst heartbreak and loss of his life, reminds me that I am not in control, and that there is purpose in every day I am granted, even when I can’t see or understand it:

“May Almighty God cause the man to have pity on you, so that he will give Benjamin and your other brother back to you. As for me, if I must lose my children, I must lose them.” Genesis 43: 14

I have a choice every day: to look for God in this seemingly hope-less horizon, or to make my grave here in this barren wilderness.


I choose to hope, despite the facts I cannot argue against. I choose to believe, despite the horrors that I see. I choose to trust, because I have been given a heart that knows no other way through the dark valley of shadows like these.

I have learned, even if only by living stories of those who have gone before me, that suffering and death are only passageways that leads to something glorious and unexplainable on the other side. There is a voice that whispers with every step, compelling me to hope in what is unseen, and to accept nothing as defeat. 

“How can this be?” is still a question that rises like a lump in my throat with every new detail I wish I didn’t know. But the answer is becoming clearer every day: 

“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

“My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly. Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me.” Psalm 31:15-16

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, when you walk through a “How can this be?” season or circumstance in your life, pause to consider and remember that God’s ways often look very different from ours. You may want to snatch the pen and edit the story He is writing, but I entreat you to be still and know that He is a good God with good plans, and that the end you cannot – and may not want to – see is going to be worth the journey it is taking to get there.

God didn’t put murder in Joseph’s brothers’ hearts, nor design the grief that ripped his father’s soul. But He did know that evil would come to sift them, and He put in motion the plans to bring them out as gold refined through fire in the end.

God didn’t set out to ruin Mary’s life or to pierce her heart with the pain of raising a child that would be tortured by the very ones He came to save. But He knew someone would have to yield herself in order for the world to have hope. And He knew that Mary’s heart was humble enough for the job. That job – of carrying and raising the Savior of the whole world – may have cost her everything and wrecked the dreams she once had, but I can imagine the joy she has in Heaven today as she sits beside her Son and rejoices over every soul that is rescued when they call upon His Name.

A wise man once told me that everything God does – and allows – is redemptive. His ways may seem mysterious and even hard to accept at times. But He remains the safest place to turn in our bewilderments. He knows the way through, and He is the most trustworthy guide through the pits of our wilderness experiences.

When you don’t understand how something could be the way it is, and you are left with life-shattering griefs and sorrows, look to the One Who bore those sorrows in His own body on the cross (Isaiah 53:4), because in Him You will find peace and strength for the journey ahead. And in Him – and only in Him – You will see a triumphant ending to all of your broken roads.

Here is a song to meditate on and worship with as you commit your heart to still believe. There is a movie by the same name, which I highly recommend for the strengthening of your faith and your resolve to go forward, no matter what may come. Be blessed as you stay the course of trusting God and reaping His incredible, unbreakable promises!


{Photo Images courtesy of}


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