Embracing the Unexpected: Mary the Mother of Jesus
The Christmas season is best known for being a time of gift giving. Have any of you gals received something truly unexpected for Christmas? I know I have!
One year my great aunt gave me a piggy bank that said “I’m saving for a rich husband on it.” She meant it as a joke (I think), but I legitimately had no idea how to respond when I opened it. I kind of just sat there trying to decide if I was going to laugh or be extremely offended! A few years after that my grandma got me a Blue’s Clues stuffed animal, I was 25 years old. She bought it because the blue color matched some of the colors in my apartment. So, I guess it’s the thought that counts, right?
It’s tough to know what to do with these unexpected and unanticipated gifts this time of year. Usually the best we can do it be polite, offer a thank you, and then return the unwanted gifts a few days later. I typically don’t end up embracing the unasked-for gifts.
Thinking about unexpected gifts brought to mind the story of Mary. Mary was another single woman in the Bible who God had big plans for! She was the mother of Jesus Christ!
*If you want to read more about how God uses single women, check out this blog post!*
We first meet Mary in Luke chapter 1 where an angel comes to her and tells her that she is going to have a son, his name will be Jesus and he will be the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:29-38). To us this sounds like an amazing gift! But that’s because we know how the story ends. We know how Jesus lived a perfect life and died on the cross to save his people from his sins. We know what an amazing honor it was to be chosen to be the mother of Jesus. We know that the whole story worked together for good and that Jesus rose from the tomb on the third day.
Mary didn’t have the benefit of this knowledge. Realistically, she had just had an unplanned pregnancy thrown into her lap. How’s that for an unexpected gift?
I mean think about it, that’s got to be tough to explain. “Hey mom and dad, I’m pregnant, but no worries, its God’s baby not my fiance Joseph’s.” I can’t even imagine.
The Bible doesn’t really explicitly say, but I think we can safely assume that Mary had a tough time being pregnant with Jesus. She probably felt distanced from friends and family. People gossiped just as much in biblical times as they do today, and I’m sure Mary was a hot topic of conversation.
However, Mary had a true understanding of the God she served. She knew that his purposes always work together for good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” These words from Romans weren’t even written during Mary’s lifetime, but she trusted that God would be faithful and work everything together for his good. She didn’t worry about what people would think, or how she would explain her pregnancy to her friends. Instead she said, “I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say (Luke 1:38).”
Now, we don’t usually get messages delivered to us by an angel, but even if we did, would be as willing to serve as Mary was? I think if I were her I would’ve had a ton of questions. How will this work out? What will Joseph think? What will my parents think? Will I be a good mother? Where will we live? Am I really qualified to be the mother of Jesus?
Instead of questioning, Mary simply says she is ready to serve. How amazing is that?
I can’t tell you how many ministry opportunities I’ve missed out on because I didn’t have all my questions answered. Have you ever hesitated to sign up for a church ministry because you weren’t sure who else was participating, or how the timing would work with your work schedule? When God clearly gives us an opportunity, we need to act in faith, even before we have all the details ironed out.
Soon after her visit from the angel, Mary goes to visit her aunt Elizabeth. Mary tells Elizabeth all that has happened. She says, “I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened— I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten (Luke 1:46-50).” Mary’s faith is so amazing. She is confident that God is going to work everything together for his good.
This is so convicting to me. When I am faced with unexpected life circumstances, my first response is almost always stress and worry. I rarely stop to think of all the ways that God can use my circumstances.
When we go through a break up, lose a job, remain single longer than expected or have an overwhelming amount of family stress, rarely do we think about how God can use these circumstances for his glory. It usually just seems easier to feel sorry for ourselves and give into self pity and despair.
Mary immediately realizes that God is going to do something huge through her. Even though she is experiencing a pregnancy that she didn’t anticipate, she views herself as the “most fortunate woman on earth”. Mary is excited about what God is going to do in her life and the lives of those around her.
The holidays are a particularly difficult time to deal with unexpected circumstances. There are so many expectations on this time of year that it’s easy to feel let down if everything isn’t going like we planned.
I hope that you can look to the story of Mary and be encouraged to be excited about the things that God is going to do in your life. Mary had no idea how things were going to turn out, but she knew that she served a good God who had good things in store for her. If we trust God and have faith in his plans even when we don’t understand, we can learn to embrace unexpected circumstances in our lives and view them as gifts!