December 10 “Making Room for Agreement with God”
Mary seemed troubled by the angel Gabriel who greeted her in this manner – “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary’s name may very well come from the Hebrew word, Marah, meaning “bitter” (see Ruth 1:20), a name that described a pool the Israelites encountered while wandering in the wilderness eons prior. They could not drink from the waters of Marah as a result of its polluted state (Exodus 15:23). Perhaps her name described her actual demeanor at the me of this visitation.
Mary, no doubt, was from a poor family and was engaged to Joseph, a poor carpenter from Nazareth. To a woman like Mary – poor and oppressed – along with the rest of Israel under an unfriendly Roman Empire, bitterness of heart would most likely have been a common demeanor.
When one is bitter, glad tidings are difficult to embrace, much less, to even recognize. Gabriel’s greeting surely caught Mary off guard. Gabriel continues his message – “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.” (Luke 1:30 – 33)
Mary continues to be challenged. “’How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’” (Luke 1:34) “The angel answers, ‘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.’” (Luke 1:35 – 37)
“’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” (Luke 1:38)
As we consider this exchange, we watch Mary grow from bitterness and doubt, to confidence and the embracing of God’s will and plan for her life. She has come from a place of wondering how this will affect her on a personal level to understanding that, even though she does not fully comprehend how this will ultimately impact the world at large, she is part of a much greater plan that involves far more than her initial concerns.
When Mary later meets her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with Jesus’ predecessor, John the Baptist, she is anything but bitter. After John leaps in Elizabeth’s womb at the presence of his Lord in Mary’s womb, Mary breaks into joyous song (Luke 1:46–55).
Mary’s story helps us to understand that the revelation of God’s will is not always something we can quickly grasp or embrace. It often comes in increments – step by step, question after question – until we begin to comprehend the greater good that God is seeking to utilize us for.
1. Do poor circumstances tend to interfere with your reception of God’s directives in your life?
2. In what way or ways may you have difficulty hearing or understanding God’s promises while suffering disappointing situations?
3. In 1st Samuel 30:6, David encountered a harsh problem but encouraged himself in the Lord. What way or ways do you know that can help you follow his example?