When I read the Christmas story each year, God gives me the gift of a new lens, known as another year’s experience, to filter the spoken and unspoken details of those precious participants who lived out the story without the benefit of knowing what would happen next.
In our current culture, I’m constantly blown away at how much humanity seems to thrive on a good scandal. Before all of the facts are in, a vehemently-drawn line has been drawn with people spewing assumptions they believe to be true. This problem isn’t a new one. Mary would undoubtedly agree.
We don’t know her entire back story. It’s easy to assume she was the best good girl you could ever meet, and while she very well may have been, one thing I’ve learned from living is that God tends to use us in big ways after we’ve proven our faith is genuine. We can’t prove our faith is genuine until we’ve endured trials.
When the angel visited Mary in Luke 1:28, he called her “favored one” and just a few minutes later reiterated that she had found favor with God. (Luke 1:30) My reading lens this year can’t help but ask what Mary had gone through to make the God of the universe point His loving finger at her and say, “Her. I want her to be a part of this fantastic plan I have for mankind.”
To live out the gift that God gave Mary, she had to have a faith that could endure all kinds of whispers of scandal. She had to be okay with the fact that some people would never believe the truth, that the very Son of God was divinely growing inside of her.
As I’ve thought through this fact this year, I appreciate the power of God’s grace even more. He gets His children through the most humbling and devastating circumstances so that we can come out on the other side clinging to a gift more precious than we could have possessed otherwise.
I was touched by the observations and declarations that Mary made in her song of praise to God shortly after she began carrying the Christ-child. The words that we choose to speak about God and to God say much about what we’re experiencing.
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
“From now on, generations will call me blessed” she said. The specifics of what that young woman had endured to make that statement will remain a mystery to us, but that’s one of the things that’s so beautiful about the love and grace of God. He knows every detail of our stories, the things about our pasts that have caused us to feel shame, the dreams that fell flat, the tragedies that tore us up with grief, and He pours His love and grace all over them to make a beautiful gift.
Maybe you, like me, have had a difficult year. No one but God will ever know or understand how the challenges have wrecked you and changed your perspective on so many aspects of life. That’s kind of a gift in and of itself, don’t you think? Sure, what has happened matters, but what is actually important today and in the future is the from now on. My prayer this Christmas is that others can see how blessed I am by my almighty, loving, merciful, and faithful God and want even more of His grace themselves.
Merry Christmas friends!