The Weaving of Joys and Sorrows {The Grove: Pondering}

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, ESV). In the midst of the dust and the noise and the cries of a newborn, Mary stopped and pondered all that had just happened. The Greek word translated as ponder means, “to put one thing with another in considering circumstances.”[1] Mary wasn’t simply thinking about her day or gazing in awe at the newborn King. As Elizabeth George puts it, “[She] thought through the words and events together, considering how they fit together, comparing them to prophecy, weighing them against what she knew of her God, carrying their message to her heart.”[2] Another author puts it this way, “Mary reflected on this momentous event in history. Of all the women of Israel she was the mother of the Messiah!”[3]

Luke 2:19 is one of my favorite verses in the Christmas story because it reminds me to be still in the midst of the busyness of the season. Most of us are finishing weeks of rushing from event to event, of accomplishing task after task. From November to January our schedules are insane, and our minds are full. We rarely take time to stop and quiet our hearts. To reflect on how the Father has worked in our heart, our family, our ministry in the past year. To sit and process all He has done, all we have experienced. From our shouts of thanksgiving to our tears of sorrow. Everything is in His hands and part of His plan. We know this. We believe this.

All of our joys and sorrows are interwoven in His plan. The joy of arriving in a new country is coupled with the sorrow of leaving family. The joy of new friendship is tied to the sorrow of goodbyes. The joy of a child graduating from high school is followed by the sorrow of dropping them off at college.

Perhaps you’re like me, and 2018 was a whirlwind. December is over, and you aren’t sure how you got from the beginning to the end of the year in one piece. At the beginning of 2018 I never imagined I would be diagnosed with cancer in January or would start a job I’d only dreamed of in August. I didn’t anticipate another move or months of waiting for resolution in regard to my husband’s health. Yet looking back I see how the cancer and the unknowns led to open doors and steps of faith. Doors we wouldn’t have ever dreamed of going through and steps of faith that have strengthened my walk with the Lord and our marriage.

Just as Mary pondered how God was using her and how His plan was unfolding, I challenge all of us (myself included) to do the same. As we enter a new year, stop and ponder how His plan played out in your life in 2018. Take an hour or a day (or however many minutes you can spare) and write down the joys and the sorrows from this year. See how they are interwoven. Look for ways to praise the Father for His goodness and for specific requests to bring before Him during 2019. Praise Him for His plan of redemption woven throughout Scripture and for how He is at work in your life and ministry.

We’d love to hear in the comments how God wove together your 2018 and how looking back on the year helped you reflect on and see His goodness to you.

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[1]W.E. Vine, Merril F. Unger and William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 476.

[2]Elizabeth George, Women Who Loved God, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999).

[3]John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament Edition, (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Publishing), 208.

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We invite you to share in The Grove. You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Share your images on this week’s theme with #VelvetAshesPondering. You can add yours!

2 Comments

  1. Katherine January 4, 2019

    Thanks for your post Laura, sounds like you had an intense year. For me the big thing in 2018 was that we would take our kids our of preschool and attempt to morph ourselves into a homeschooling family. I was really dreading it. For me and the kids our whole social life was based around preschool, and it gave us so many good connections in the community and with other cross cultural families . I’m Australian , my husband is Cambodian and through preschool we got to know a few other families with expat mums and local dads. So great for the kids to know others in similar families.

    I had already been asking around trying to find homeschooling families in town but I had only heard of one and they didn’t live anywhere near us. But…when the time came for us to finish up with school that one family came back from home assignment and moved right near us, which is amazing as we live out of town, no other expats in the area as far as I know. And 3 other homeschooling families moved to town, and then 2 other families in town started homeschooling. It was like a home school community just suddenly appeared around me.

    Plus, not having preschool each day meant we had time for play dates with other expat Christian families. SOOO great to get to know others from the expat church I try to attend occasionally. Sundays are hard juggling local church and English church, so its been good to get to know others outside Sundays.

    I also pondered what I learnt in 2018 on my blog. I haven’t linked it up, but its linked to my name/this comment if you want to read it.

    1. Laura January 6, 2019

      Katherine, thanks for sharing how God has provided for you and your kids! And I look forward to reading your reflections on 2018. 🙂

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