“Anew” Thinking for a New Year

“Ponder Anew” Year

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

The year had been extraordinary. Miraculous. As Mary cradled her newborn son in her arms, she pondered what had transpired in the previous 24 hours and perhaps everything else that had happened since the angel Gabriel appeared to her all those months ago.

Could this sleeping infant truly be the Son of the Most High, Jesus Christ the Lord? It must be so. Everything about Mary’s year pointed to the truth of Gabriel’s words: the angel’s unexpected announcement, Joseph’s gracious response to her pregnancy, Cousin Elizabeth’s enthusiastic affirmation, and the shepherds’ angelic encounter. Unbelievable, yes. But also undeniable.

So Mary pondered “all these things.” The Greek word translated ponder in many translations is symballo: “to put one thing with another in considering circumstances.”[1]  English translators chose wisely when they selected ponder, derived from an Old French word that means “to weigh, to estimate the worth of, to appraise.”[2]

How often do we weigh the worth of the Christmas story as it relates to our daily life? How does knowing that God became flesh to save me from my sins and give me eternal life influence the way I conduct business, choose leisure activities, spend money, and cultivate relationships?

More than 300 years ago, a German Latin teacher, Joachim Neander, pondered the evidence of God’s mighty deeds in his life, and he wrote these words:

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

The Almighty God has befriended us. That’s the essence of the Christmas story. And He showers us with goodness and mercy every day. What should our response be? Solomon phrased it this way: “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established” (Proverbs 4:26 NKJV).  Or, as another translation says, “Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path” (NLT).

When we ponder anew what the Almighty has done and can do, we’ll want to ponder the path of our feet. We’ll want to stay on the safe, straight path marked out by God’s Word. That’s what Mary did. That’s what Solomon and Neander encouraged us to do.

May this be a “ponder anew” year for each of us. And may our pondering lead us ever closer to the One who loved us enough to become one of us, Jesus Christ the Lord.

DIG DEEPER:

According to Proverbs 5:21, what does God ponder (examine in the NIV)? Does that comfort you or convict you? Maybe a little of both?

Read Psalm 77. What is the psalmist’s mindset at the beginning of the psalm? What does he “ponder anew” in verses 10-20? How do those remembrances change his mindset? What do you ponder in troubling times?

Read 1 Samuel 12:19-25. What did Samuel encourage the Israelites to ponder (consider in the NIV) as they transitioned into a new political era under the leadership of a king? What was Samuel’s warning? What advice might Samuel give us as we enter a new year?

Read all the lyrics of Neander’s hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”: http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/p/t/pttlta.htm

 Denise K. Loock

[1] Vine, W. “Dictionaries :: Ponder.” Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 24 Jun, 1996. http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm

[2]http://etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=ponder&searchmode=none

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