“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words.
Is this something like when your kids come to you and say, “I LOVE you SO MUCH, Mom! You are the BEST mom in the WHOLE WORLD!” You might nod hesitantly. “Mmhmm…I love you, too. What do you want?” You may think like Mary,
“What kind of greeting must this be?”
What does it mean to be “highly favored?”
A friend of mine, Andrew Chambers, recently posted a Facebook status that really made me think. He said, “The angel showed up and called Mary the “highly favored one”. She was almost divorced by her husband. Mother of an illegitimate son. Fled to Egypt for fear of her life. Watched her son die a horrific death. And highly favored. Sometimes favor doesn’t feel like favor.”
God had a special job for Mary. He needed one person to fill this particular role in His plan. He considered His people, and He chose exactly the one who embodied what was required. The one He knew from before the beginning of time would be willing to say, “May it be unto me as you have said.”
Are you a follower of Jesus who is willing to say, “May it be unto me as you have said?”
Sometimes favor doesn’t look like favor.
It felt like favor when God said He had a job overseas for us to do. We eagerly leaped at the opportunity to follow Him on a grand adventure. It didn’t feel as much like favor less than two years later when our team was struggling and we were told we needed to return home.
It felt like favor when God gave us a chance to serve Him in Nepal, where we planned to visit ministry friends for fun and our World Race squad for debriefing. Five days into our trip, it didn’t feel so much like favor as we faced the danger of the 7.8 earthquake that struck Kathmandu.
We have highly-favored friends whose struggles we have been allowed to witness as well. Missionaries who returned from the field to deal with serious health issues, or troubled young-adult children, or the unexpected death of a parent or son.
Sometimes when things take a turn for the worse, we ask, like the disciples in John 2, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responded, “Neither, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Sometimes, God has a work to be done that can only be accomplished through hardship.
He looks at what is required, and he considers His people. He finds the one who he has created for this job. He knows He has graced that person with the capacity to say, “May it be unto me as you have said,” so that His works might be displayed in them.
Is it any wonder that “Mary was greatly troubled at his words?”
But the angel had already prefaced his message with, “The Lord is with you!” and he followed it with, “Do not be afraid!”
He told her of the great things that were to happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. God worked outside the realm of his created design to do miracles that only He could do, and orchestrated redemption for His people!
It was not without pain for Mary, however. More likely, it was similar to the word pictures drawn by Andrew Peterson in his song, Labor of Love:
It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town.
And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold.
It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love.
After hearing this song, I have trouble singing, “Silent Night…all is calm…”
It was painful. It was dark. There was blood. There were tears. And she probably felt very alone.
But God’s plan was at work.
She couldn’t see it all. She still had questions that couldn’t really be answered except with “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Yet God’s purposes were being accomplished.
The angel had said, “No word from God will ever fail.” And it didn’t.
Not even in the dark, with the pain and the questions.
His works were displayed, and now the world rejoices!
My impact on the world is much smaller, but I can see now how God is using the pain of our previous experiences to do works that only He can do.
Mary was highly favored. Maybe you are, too. So that the works of God might be displayed in you!
Lord, give us the faith and the strength to say, “May it be to me as you have said.”
Read the entire passage in Luke 1:28-38.