Have you ever thought about how difficult it must have been for Mary to face the circumstances surrounding Jesus’s birth? We’re usually quick to focus on the words of the angel proclaiming that Mary was highly favored among women and chosen. Because we know the ending of the story, it’s easy for us to see this visit as a blessing not just to Mary, but to the whole world. And it absolutely was. But I have to wonder if Mary saw it like that in those first moments.
Can you imagine how she felt? Most of us have been right where she was that night when the angel visited her. We’ve had plans, goals, and yes, dreams. As far as Mary knew, her life was perfectly laid out before her. Plans of marriage, future children (Lord willing), and life in her sleepy hometown where everyone admired and respected her family weren’t far fetched for her.
But for Mary, the angel brought news that turned everything upside down. She didn’t choose her circumstances. She was chosen. Chosen for a calling that would cost her dearly, far beyond what she probably even imagined in that moment.
And so are you, my friend. You are chosen for whatever God has lovingly placed in your life. Whether it’s giving birth in a dirty old manger, holding the hand of a loved one laying in a hospital bed, or working through yet another rebellion of a difficult child.
So what can we learn from Mary to help us face our unknowns? Let’s look at how she responded to the angel that night. In Luke 1:38, we see her first response to the news. “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
As I read those words again this morning, I could almost imagine her exact emotion. If she was anything like you and I, she likely whispered those words out of trust and obedience. Not out of excitement or happiness. If she was anything like me, she was probably scared senseless. Her mind probably ran 100 miles an hour up and down the scenarios of what her family would think, what Joseph would do, and how everything she had hoped for would be turned upside down.
Although I’ve never faced anything of this magnitude, I feel like I can truly relate to what she must have felt. So many times my life has gone from this perfect little cookie cutter plan I created and orchestrated to a less traveled path I never would have chosen on my own.
As I’ve been bedside to my son in the hospital facing the upside down world of brain cancer and chemo, I’ve even whispered those same words of trust and obedience to the Lord. But I have to be honest. Sometimes, I do it because it’s the right thing to do and I know it’s what I need to do in order to keep going. Not because my heart is truly rejoicing in the matter.
The Bible doesn’t really tell us if Mary struggled with this calling, but I have to imagine she did. Wouldn’t any woman? We all have to fight to control thoughts and feelings threatening to consume us in moments when life gets derailed from our original intentions. I know I sure do.
Truly, this cancer thing is so small in the grand scheme of what Mary faced. The judgmental glances, rejection, and ridicule were only the beginning for her. The pregnancy alone would ostracize her and call her out in a shameful manner. And Joseph? He might even leave her in disgrace.
Regardless of the feelings in her heart, we know exactly what came out of her mouth when she visited Elizabeth. It wasn’t fear, uncertainty, questioning of God, or frantic planning. Mary simply glorified the Lord. And this, my friend, is the secret to the unknown.
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Luke 1:46-47, 49
Her focus wasn’t on the unknowns, the probable trials, or the tremendous responsibility. She didn’t have to know how she would get through the hard parts, she only had to know one thing: God is in control and He is always and only good. Since this is true, we can rest in the assurance that even if life is hard, God will use every single tear, hurt, and broken place for His ultimate glory.
Mary wanted to be part of that glory. Wouldn’t you? Her response was exactly what ours should be in the face of every unknown situation. Not looking ahead to the possible hardships, but looking up to HIS glory!
My friend, there is a secret here that we must tuck into our hearts this Christmas. Whatever you face this year, whether it be job loss, family trouble, loss of a loved one, parenting struggles, cancer or health issues… look UP for God’s glory. The unknowns and difficulties of your circumstances do not control or consume you.
Isn’t that such a comfort today? Right now in this very moment, your soul can magnify the Lord for He has done great things for you past, present, and forever. This is a truth I am praying over you today and each day as we journey into a brand new year. The secret isn’t finding the right circumstances or situations in your life. The secret is simply to look up, choosing to magnify the Lord for His glory and basking in the promise of it.