Read Mary’s story in Luke 1:26-56.
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
The story of the virgin Mary who gave birth to the son of God is well known to most of us. Even those who do not believe in God are aware of the story. Depending on one’s beliefs, the idea of a virgin giving birth to God’s son runs the gamut of ridiculous to holy. We see it as part of the pivotal movement of grace gifted to each child, woman, man who will accept it.
In the early years of my life, before motherhood, Mary’s story was of minor importance. After all, the main event was Jesus come to earth as our savior. The angels came to tell the shepherds about Jesus. The wise men followed the star and brought gifts to Jesus. Even Herod’s less than positive focus was on the baby.
To put it gently, becoming a parent greatly enhanced my perception of what it meant to carry a baby through pregnancy to birth, as well as the joys and challenges of parenthood.
One of the things that mystified me about being pregnant was complete strangers felt a compelling need to give me mostly unwanted advice about my body and parenting, to touch my stomach without asking my permission, and even tell me the most gruesome birth stories. Is there some kind of chemical change in the air when a pregnant woman passes by that encourages this behavior? Apparently, this is quite common. Don’t believe me? Ask pregnant women.
I wonder, how difficult was Mary’s experience. Luke tells us of the angel coming to Mary, with the news she had been chosen to have the messiah. Luke 2:29 says that Mary was very troubled when she was approached by the angel; she was fearful in the angel’s presence. Then we read the angel’s reassuring words to Mary and the story moves to her praise and joy. Verse 56 says Mary went to stay with Elizabeth for about three months before returning home.
No further information is given regarding Mary’s pregnancy, whether she and Joseph met to discuss the angel’s visit to Joseph, or Mary and Joseph’s wedding. The bible is silent about how her family and friends treated her, or the no doubt many malicious comments she endured. There is no mention of whether any of her friends encouraged her or helped her through those long months.
Can you imagine what life was for Mary in her first pregnancy? Just how comforting was Joseph able to be for her when Mary carried God’s son? Does the word intimidating come to your mind? It does to mine. Did Joseph hold her close when her emotions were moving with the speed and direction of a roller coaster?
We do know that Mary’s reputation in Nazareth was ever after tainted. The reason we know this is because of the way the people responded to Jesus in His ministry. They called Him Mary’s son. That was an especially derisive term. We know what it is called today, what they would have called Mary.
Mary was chosen by holy God to be the mother of holy God. It was a blessing and an honor. The mother of the Messiah was something every little Jewish girl wanted to be. They dreamed about it, hoped for it. Mary was the favored one.
Sometimes we feel more cursed than blessed when God chooses us for His purpose. We cannot find the feeling of blessing when we know we are doing what He has asked, going where He has led us. Sometimes blessings just do not feel like blessings.
But God — But God says be patient. He is doing something. He is accomplishing something. He tells us His thoughts are not our thoughts, He knows what He is doing, the plans He has for us. He is always working, and though we may not see the gift, He encourages us to endure. He wants us to have faith, to trust and to hope.
With my small, intimate knowledge of motherhood, I have only a tiny insight into what Mary may have felt, into her longings for her child and hopes for the future.
What I know is this, God accomplished more than Mary could have imagined.
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