In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
As we approach Christmas, between the concerts, parties, shopping, work, and other activities, we may have a minute or so to stop and consider what actually happened and the events leading up to that night. There are many plays, movies, and songs that give us some varied ideas of what Mary, Joseph, and their families may have felt or done as the time for the Savior’s birth approached, but we may never fully understand until we may one day ask them. What questions would you have for them, or for God around how this all came about?
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
You may find it difficult to relate to an unmarried pregnant teenage girl who lived 2000 years ago, but in many ways she is much like you. The cultural pressures caused her to question how things were happening, but her faith caused her to be obedient to God. We live in a world with thousands of distractions that would take our attention and hearts away from God. There are ads and voices telling us to do what’s best for me, not to care what others think or even to acknowledge God. She surely had many of the same thoughts and feelings that we would when faced with uncertainty. Just like you and I, God knew Mary before she was even born. He knew how she would be raised and what she was capable of, including her faith. Can you imagine his plans for you? Though different than the plans for Mary and most others, they can still be significant. Do you believe that?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
When we acknowledge and obey the word of God, he is with us. The fact that he abides with us testifies to the statement that we are also highly favored, and he calls us His own. When we face difficult or uncertain situations, we need to remember this as well. You can endure, the Lord is with you. You can speak the truth, the Lord is with you. You can forgive, the Lord is with you. You can do what you have been called to do, the Lord is with you. When we trust and obey the Lord, he is with us and is for us. Take comfort in that. Just as a young girl did, not so long ago, let her example inspire our faith as well.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Strength and Courage in Christ,