I have often contemplated Mary’s dilemma upon learning that she would become pregnant by a living, but unseen, God. While her initial response provides an entire commentary on humility and faith in regards to facing an impossible task, there is little doubt that her walk would have been one rife with humiliation, disappointment, and unjust suffering and shame. Although premarital pregnancies are commonplace today, it was not the case during Mary’s lifetime. I can only imagine the great amount of trust it must have taken to faithfully carry out such a monumental task. I suppose that this is why God selected Mary.
Though she may not have realized it, God knew the heart of His daughter.
He understood the painful journey ahead of her, and He knew that He could trust her to faithfully complete it. When Gabriel approached her, declaring her ‘blessed and highly favored’, he was not just speaking of her walk up until that moment.
He was prophesying about her future.
God knew exactly where her walk would take her. He knew about Simeon and Anna waiting at the temple. He knew the trepidation that would fill her heart as she looked anxiously for her missing son, who was potentially lost among the throngs of travelers. He foresaw her lonely nights, and He was unsurprised by her broken heart at the foot of the cross.
And still, He chose her. He was certain that she was trustworthy.
Mary was not perfect. She was as human as you and I. But Mary chose faith. She chose to trust Her Lord, and believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God to accomplish an inconceivable task. And because of that, God was able to use her to give bring forth the extraordinary.
It will almost always require us to release personally held plans in order to be able to receive those of the Purpose-Giver. I am almost certain that Mary, having been a young woman in the first century B.C., had dreams of having sons after she was married. But, God’s purpose for her life required that she relinquish that dream, and in exchange she was able to be mother to the greatest son ever to be born of woman, whose father was God, Himself.
Hannah was tormented and emotionally abused by a woman who seemed blessed to be the sole heir of their husband’s legacy. Yet, although she may have felt broken and worn, God had plans to call Hannah’s not-yet conceived son to participate in His legacy. Her eldest son, Samuel, would live to become the man hand-chosen by God to bring His people back to Himself, to bring honor back to His temple, to speak to His people as His prophet, and to anoint Israel’s first two kings. But, first Hannah had to be willing to do the unthinkable. She had to give up her son. She had to let go of the child that she had cried over, longed for, and prayed desperately about, trusting God’s plan over her own.
Living during a time when “Israel had no king, and everyone did what seemed right in their own eyes” Deborah demonstrates courage and faithfulness, among a backdrop of unfaithful and often faithless judges. During this era of history, the roles of men and women were clearly defined, and typically distinct. Regardless of our personally held beliefs on these issues, we should all be able to agree that Deborah’s assignment as a judge over Israel speaks volumes of her capability and credibility. Of all the judges, Deborah alone is referred to as a prophet or prophetess. Like Joshua and Moses, she heard from God, and was chosen to give His Word to His people. She was so highly regarded that the general whom God had appointed to lead His army would not proceed into battle without her. Because she had proven trustworthy to God and the people, He used her to encourage an army to rise up against and defeat, Israel’s oppressors. Interestingly enough, it was yet another courageous woman, Jael, who would claim the glory of the battle.
This is the type of remarkable faith that God uses to accomplish His purpose. These are the kinds of lives that God uses to incubate the extraordinary. Hopefully we will experience seasons when we have been doing our best to walk in obedience and submission, yet still, our lives seems rife with storms and inexplicable difficulty. If so, we can be assured, God sees our faithfulness. And He knows our hearts. Hopefully, like Mary and Hannah, we will prove trustworthy, falling into His arms, facing our fears like Deborah or Jael, and offer our dreams to Him. I have little doubt that we will be surprised by what we get in return.
So, for all of you who, like me, feel more like it’s a Wednesday than a Monday, here’s…
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For prayer on this topic visit today’s Daily Hope & a Prayer devotional.
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