Blessed Is She Who Believed


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Over Christmas break (and can we all agree that we use the term “break” very loosely when we have small children? K, thanks) I started reading through those iconic, familiar, Christmasy chapters of Luke. You know, the ones everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, are familiar with. If you’ve seen Charlie Brown Christmas then you can hear Linus’ voice in your head, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…”. Now I know that’s kind of the cliche thing to do over the Advent season, reading those overly familiar passages. But this was one of the very reasons I came back to it again this year. Lord, show me something new. Remind me how great this news really is. I came at it hungry, longing to see, touch, feel my salvation all over again.

The last 3 months had been rough, guys. Not unbearable, not horrific, not earth-shattering. Just rough. Josh and I agree that the first year of our adoption was strangely peaceful in a lot of ways. Things went so much more smoothly than we anticipated. But about a year in (last summer) is when I think it really sank in, this crazy thing we had done. So the fall just really felt like the reality of it all was really sinking in. Anyway, more about that another time.

So as I came to Luke 1, reading those same old familiar passages again, I was anxious and weary. The busyness of the upcoming Christmas season was weighing on me, the pressures of motherhood, all that needed to be done. And I didn’t want to get pulled into all of that only to lose sight of what we’re really celebrating.

A few days into this re-reading of those well-known verses, He did indeed show me something new, and I’ve really thought about it almost every day since. I was reminded again that this event that took place in that “little town of Bethlehem” reaches through time and history and culture and experience and has life-changing implications for each of us, if we would only have eyes to see.

Here’s the scene: Mary has found out from the angel, Gabriel, that she is going to conceive the very Son of God. That a miracle is going to take place in her body and not only will this miracle impact her, it will be answer of the cry of every heart for redemption and salvation. In other words, she went from being average teenager to God’s chosen vessel to bring about the pinnacle of His great eternal plan. I think when we read this we have some glowing beautiful picture of Mary in our minds but I’d venture a guess that she was scared out of her mind. This is the end of her life as she knows it. It’s standing on the cliff and jumping when God asks you to jump, knowing the only way you’ll survive is if He keeps you from crashing into the rocks below.

What follows is the famous “Magnificat”, Mary’s song of praise to a God who is making good on His promise to redeem His people. But what gave me pause as I read comes right before that. Mary goes to see her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth knows, without needing to be told, that Mary is pregnant with the Messiah. And as she is praising God she says this:

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  (Luke 1:45)

I read this and do you know what I think? I think we tend to get the idea of “blessing” all wrong. Why is Mary blessed? Is it because God has given her an easy life, a comfortable one? Is it because she has all the things she needs or perfect relationships? I think we can agree this is not the case. As I just said, Mary is in a precarious position. Her reputation is going to be in shreds, her husband-to-be could very well leave or or have her killed (though we know he doesn’t). We also know that this Son she has is going to leave her and die a gruesome death before her eyes. No, Mary’s life is not going to be easy.

But she is blessed. She is blessed because she believes. She believes that this great God has greater good than our eyes can see. That He makes good on His promises. That He speaks and He acts and He fulfills. That though the very mountains fall into the sea and this world as we know it fall to pieces, He WILL be all that He has promised to be.

Friends, this Word spoken over Mary is a word for you. Today. In the midst of whatever hardship you are facing. Believe.

Sometimes I am hit so hard with all that we face as women. In my own life I have moments like the other day, when my poor little Eva falls to pieces because she is so afraid of being alone. This girl is so broken. She has been abandoned twice and she is afraid to believe it will not happen again. She is afraid, all the time. I feel helpless as I face it. Oh, God, help her to trust me. Help. I don’t know how to help her.”

And all around me are women facing hardship so heavy I don’t know how they will walk through it. Daily life alone can be so challenging. Not sleeping for weeks on end because of  a newborn. Being stuck in a difficult job with no possibility of leaving. Even trying to keep up with all the seemingly mundane responsibilities of life is just hard some days. And then there are the more acutely difficult seasons. Painful marriages, divorce, a long road of singleness, cancer, wayward children, children with disabilities, broken relationships. Women who, like Mary, are standing on the edge of what God has called them too, not knowing how they’ll get through it.

My prayer today for myself, for these women I’ve described, is that we, like Mary, would believe that God fulfills His promises. In this there is blessing. Not necessarily a change of circumstance or an answer to prayer, but blessing. Because true blessing is found in simply knowing God and drawing near to Him through Jesus. All of these struggles, as heavy as they may sometimes feel, are fading like the grass, as are we. But God has promised us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs these temporal difficulties. And when we believe that this promise will be fulfilled, that someday the sorrow and the tears and the heartache will vanish as we enjoy His very presence, we can find that we are really, truly blessed.

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