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 that the Holy Spirit would come upon her 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 a 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. (Read Luke 1:26-38)
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 (Matthew 1:19-20). (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.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good thing but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46-55 NIV)
(See Psalm 103,22,44,89,98,147,25 for her references).
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.
She is also an 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.
Lord, helper of Israel, thank You for Your good promises. Thank You for being a covenant keeping God Who watches over Your Word to perform it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Here’s a P.S. to today’s devotion. Luke 1: 56 says: “And Mary remained with her [Elizabeth] about three months and returned to her home.” Imagine what Mary would have observed during those three months with Elizabeth. She would have seen what to expect in the last stage of pregnancy, and most likely been present during the birth itself. That knowledge would prove very useful on a starry night in Bethlehem in a lone stable with no midwife, no mother, no friend except Joseph to assist. Praise God for the way He prepares us for what He has prepared for us.
What is one situation which hasn’t turned out like you thought it would, that you are willing to praise God for His sovereign and perfect plan? Leave a comment and let’s share.
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