“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”
“And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” –Luke 1:28
The two times in a woman’s life when she is filled with great expectation and excitement, where she radiates, glows, and feels completely alive, is when she is going to get married and when she is going to have her first baby. Men, however, can react differently to those two significant occasions and experiences. For a man, getting married can be fear-filled. He might wonder, “Is she the right one? Can I fulfill all the commitments that I have made?” And then, he watches his wife go through all the changes up to childbirth. It’s difficult for men to grasp and understand the happiness of carrying a child.
When Mary, a virgin, got pregnant by the Holy Spirit, she went through all these processes and changes, but there was one major difference. She knew that the child inside of her was holy. She knew that the child inside of her was the very Son of God, which would cause her to put a special meaning and a special memory deep down inside her spirit to remember all that she felt and all the angel said. Amidst all that was taking place, she would remember this forever because this experience was only going to happen once for one woman in all of history and not only in her pregnancy but in the child’s growing up to put the memories deep within her.
You have to remember that Joseph died very early. And so, for many years, Mary would parent the Lord Jesus because of His death. She spent all those years parenting until Jesus would leave home on His own. These moments were very special within her memories of the relationship and the bonding that took place.
Mary was espoused, betrothed to Joseph. She was planning her wedding. She was preparing for that special day. And women need months and hours every day to plan for their wedding — a special day they will spend with a special person, celebrated with the most important people in their lives. But, amidst all her planning, an interruption occurred. An angel from nowhere appeared to her and said she was highly favored amongst all the women. This is good news for someone to hear something incredible like this, that she is highly favored above everybody else. However, what happened next was different from Mary’s plan. Her pregnancy occurred when it was very inconvenient. With the knowledge that she is highly favored, the angel explained to her that she would become pregnant as soon as he left. As the only woman in history with an unexplainable pregnancy, she pondered these things in her heart.
Living with Favor
God can say some things to you to make you think. He takes you through something you don’t talk about, but you must ponder them. You have to meditate on them in your heart.
God allows some things that are not explainable. He can disrupt your life in a lot of very odd ways.
Far from the glamorized version of Jesus’ birth that is usually portrayed in the media, Jesus was born in a messy and small place. He was born in a place meant for animals. How can this be considered favor?
The diversities of life can trip us up, and if we’re not careful, we can neglect the paradoxical parts of life. In life, we learn that we shouldn’t be so cynical, critical, conclusive, or judgmental because there are times when we think we already know so much, but it sometimes takes our entire lives to figure things out.
Sometimes, there are things that we have been crying about that eventually bring us the most joy. On the other hand, there are things you were excited about that brought you all kinds of frustrations. Sometimes you need to hold your wisdom for a while because sometimes, you might have misread a moment. In Mary’s story, after hearing that she was highly favored, she had to experience a one-of-a-kind test before the triumph. She goes into the frustrations that come before the favor. From Joseph’s perspective, he was planning to dismiss her quietly so she would not be shamed. However, the angel of the Lord also gave him a revelation.
Whenever God does something, we tend to back out of it altogether, but the truth is that God designed life to test our staying power. How can we understand God’s will if we don’t understand that sometimes, favor wears the clothes of frustration? Favor can also be adorned with the jewelry of failure. We could ask in our hearts and minds, “Am I really favored?”
Joseph and Mary’s wedding became different than the one they had in mind. Their plans changed, and their lives became complicated. The example of Mary teaches us to be consistent when life is complicated. She teaches us how to be steadfast and abiding by the purpose of God, even in confusion. She might not even understand that the Son of God won’t be born in a palace escorted by angels, in a place fit for a king. God chose the opposite for Jesus—He was born in a lonely, worn-out, and disturbing place. Jesus the Messiah was born in a complicated relationship by a couple who went on the run. Mary gave birth to a holy child, yet she had no clothes to wrap the baby in. The swaddles used for baby Jesus were clothes that were used when milking the cows. These were rags, yet God chose this to make His Son’s entrance on Earth.
In Jesus’ birth, we can see that we can have favor. But this doesn’t mean we won’t experience any fear or frustration. Being favored doesn’t mean that we’ll always get it right. There will be challenges that will go along with successes.
The Virgin Mary teaches us that the Holy Ghost can come upon us even when we’re in discomfort and pain. The circumstances might tempt us to walk out of our assignment from God. But when we accept it, we’ll have to survive everything that will be thrown at us — both good and bad. When God chose Mary to have His Son, it was not her holiness. Her tenacity, attitude, and consistency allowed her to carry out the task and earn the favor. Mary was a woman who did not drop her assignment because the road became rough.
After giving birth to Jesus, they had to escape like a convict to avoid the pursuing eyes of King Herod. She had to go down to Egypt to hide the young Jesus for two years. If we believe we have favor, should we only take assignments from God with promises of prosperity and abundance for us? Can God trust us with tough times, chaos, burdens, adversity, pain, and problems? Can He trust us with loneliness, disappointment, despair, and aggravation while we run through our own Egypt? Can we live favored and frustrated yet still stand and fight no matter what happens to see God’s will come to pass?
As Jesus’ mother, Mary didn’t expect all the challenges — her Son getting lost, going away for His ministry, and other events that she witnessed as He grew up. She probably didn’t ask to see the Son she raised getting beaten, whipped, and persecuted to the point of death. She had to watch her Son die before she did. No parent should go through this. She would agonize over three days, thinking that everything was lost. She watched Jesus die and felt powerless. She probably did not realize that a part of Jesus’ time on Earth was to die. Mary went through the agony of Jesus’ death until His Resurrection on the third day.
Hold On. Stand Strong.
From Mary’s story, having frustrations doesn’t mean you don’t have faith. Likewise, the presence of fear does not necessarily imply the absence of faith. You can be excited and intimidated at the same time. You can also be very aggressive and still be very worried. You can also be powerful and in pain at the same time.
Whatever is going on in your life right now, know that God chose you for an assignment. So, keep holding on to the path that He has laid out. You may be in the toughest or the best part of your life. But whatever season you may be in, choose to carry out God’s assignment for you, even when you don’t feel like doing it. Choose to carry out your assignment from God until your time here on Earth is through. You may not understand yourself or your circumstance, but don’t quit. Stand up to all the challenges, like Mary, who stood up to carry God’s child in her womb and watched the same child die on the cross. But despite the challenges, she also saw how Jesus triumphed during His Resurrection.
You have to ride it out until bad turns to good,
until weakness becomes strength,
and until sickness bows its head.
No matter what comes, weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). The amazing thing is that Mary loved God through it all. She’s stayed through it all.
When Jesus appeared after the Resurrection and drew crowds, He spoke and told them what they were to do. And out of the 500, only 120 came in that upper room. But when the day of Pentecost finally came, the Bible says in Acts 2 that they were in one place with one accord. Then, a sound from Heaven came suddenly like a mighty rushing wind. People spoke in other tongues as it appeared like fire, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost—the Spirit of Christ Himself.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14) and the 120. It’s not just because she was relentless or that she endured. But Mary was the only mother in the entire history of humanity that got to fill her baby inside of her twice—the first was when she was pregnant with Him and the second when His Spirit filled her.
Today, whatever it looks like, hold on. Hang in there. God is saying that He will restore to you the years the pests ate up. You will get it all back. Trust God that He will bring you through. Don’t bail. Don’t run. Don’t jump. Don’t back out because you’re frustrated. Even if you’re scared and don’t understand everything, hold on. Just like Joseph, trust that God has a plan. He’s working on something. Like Mary, you are also highly favored. Keep trusting in God. He knows that it might look bad, but He wants you to know that you can trust Him. God is moving on your behalf. Keep standing on God’s Word. His promises will come to pass.
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