Monday, September 28, 2009


Astonish: to fill with sudden and overpowering surprise and wonder; amaze.

When was the last time that you were really and truly astonished? I'll be honest: I can't remember. I know I've been surprised, amazed, startled but a full and complete astonishment seems a little outside my realm of emotion. I take a lot for granted, I know, and maybe should be astonished a little more often at the wonders that surround me.
In his Gospel, Mark describes several individuals who were "amazed," "astonished," or who "did marvel" because of the works of Christ. When Christ forgave a man his sins and then healed him of the palsy, the onlookers were "all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion." (Mark 4:12). Beyond mere surprise, these witnesses recognized the miracle Christ had done, and looked to God with wonder and rejoicing.
Later in Mark's Gospel, Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. Mark says that those who watched were "astonished with a great astonishment." (Mark 5:42). Of course any of us would be astonished if we saw someone rise from the dead, but I think this goes a little deeper. Perhaps when the girl's parents and Jesus' disciples saw this miracle, they realized to some degree Jesus' power and divinity and were astonished that a Being so mighty had come to dwell among them.

At other times however, those who followed Jesus were shockingly apathetic. In the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand and the seven thousand, Mark makes no mention of any uproar or strong emotions. It seems as if the people were hungry, food appeared, and so they ate it. No more and no less. In fact, Mark says later, “they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:52). Because of their stiffneckedness and pride, these people had become accustomed to the blessings Christ bestowed upon them regularly, and even came to expect them.

It’s easy to become accustomed to the miracles and the blessings that God gives to us. They come so often, and in so many forms, that sometimes we focus on the blessings themselves and not on the Source from which they spring. I see my wonderful friends, my educational opportunities, and the beauty of nature around me and I delight in these things. But I often forget that it is only through God that these blessings come to me. I become like the Nephites, who over time became “less astonished at a sign or wonder from heaven.” (3 Nephi 2:1). I eat the loaves and the fishes without remembering the One who multiplied them for me. When I truly take time to consider the blessings God has given me, I am astonished and “stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.” I marvel especially at the love behind the Atonement. I can’t even comprehend that mercy. I need to try and appreciate all God’s miracles in my life, especially the Great Miracle of the Atonement and to let myself become astonished by them.

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