Have you ever thought, this isn’t how I thought my story would go? I certainly have, and I bet I’m not the only one.
After years of negative pregnancy tests, I mourned because life wasn’t turning out like I thought it would. There would be no gaggle of laughing children filling my home, no crowded kitchen table at mealtimes, no juggling of kids’ busy schedules. My first child would be my only child. And while I was so grateful to have this walking, talking, bundle of love, this wasn’t the way I had envisioned life unfolding. When the news came, I had a choice. I could get trapped in disappointment, or I could trust in God’s sovereign plan. I could get stuck crying “why me” or move forward with “what now.”
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had the same choice. Her life had not turned out like she thought it would. Before Gabriel spoke his prophetic words announcing the Holy Spirit would come upon her that and that she would be the mother of the Messiah, she was well on her way to marrying the man of her dreams. I imagine she thought about setting up house, being a carpenter’s wife, and raising quiver full of Joseph’s children. But Gabriel’s news changed everything.
With the words, “You will be with child by the Holy Spirit,” her life was turned upside down.
Mary knew there was a good chance she would be disgraced by her community, disowned by her parents, and disavowed by Joseph. We know from the other gospels that Joseph seriously considered divorcing her because he assumed that she had been unfaithful to him. (In those days, a couple was considered married during the engagement stage. The wedding made it official.)
And how did Mary react to this turn of events? She remembered God’s character and His ways. She remembered God as Israel’s helper…as her helper. She remembered God as faithful to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and now, to herself. As Joshua reminds us, “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled,” (Joshua 21:45 NIV).
Why did Mary mention Abraham and his offspring in her prophetic prayer of praise? Mary understood that her life was part of God’s unfolding story. Gabriel’s prophetic proclamation was not random, but part of the ongoing drama of God’s activity in the unfolding of His eternal plan past, present, and future. And we can be sure of this: no matter what twists and turns our lives may take, our lives are part of God’s unfolding story as well. And for that, we can praise Him.
Mary’s prayer alludes to Old Testament Scripture, including Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 with references to Psalm 22, 25, 44, 89, 98, 103 and 147. What a beautiful example of how having Scripture embedded deep within our hearts will help us to keep a Biblical perspective in the twists and turns of life.
- Her knowledge of Scripture helped her accept Gabriel’s message.
- Her understanding of Scripture gave her assurance of God’s promises.
- Her saturation in Scripture enabled her to have the faith to rejoice at God’s call on her life.
What a beautiful example of how knowing and believing God’s Word and His promises gives us the faith to praise Him when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would.
Father God, I am amazed once again just how much Mary trusted Your plan for her life. “Let it be done to me as you have said,” are the words I want to say each and every time my life takes an unexpected turn. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What is one situation that hasn’t turned out like you thought it would that you are willing to praise God for His sovereign and perfect plan?
What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories?
Many of us feel broken. Our mistakes, the pain others have caused us, and circumstances outside our control taunt us every day, though we long to turn a new page. My new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story, challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out of difficult stories but repurpose them for good?
Sometime struggles qualify you for an even greater purpose than you would have ever known without them. In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. So sink deep into God’s life-changing truths. The next chapter is just beginning. Includes an in-depth Bible study for individuals and groups.
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