I replayed the Biblical story in my mind and then imagined the look on Mary’s face when the angel said that she was highly favored! First, I imagined her look of being startled and perplexed, coupled with a little fear and then comforted by the words “favored one!”
I love to be greeted with great enthusiasm, big smile, arms spread apart, and my name called with a little extra tag! “Sheeerrryy-Baaabbby, my special little friend” was a particular greeting I use to receive from my friend before she went home to be with Jesus! What a salutation! It always made me feel extra special!
As I stood gazing into the 7'X5' mirror that morning, and repeated those King James Version words that I memorized so long ago, I began to think of the many difficult situations that Mary was faced with during her life, and she was highly favored!
Mary was from Nazareth. It had little wealth, culture or learning and it wasn’t the most desirable place to live. She worked hard as a woman taking care of daily needs, working in the fields, and walking a distance with her jug to dip water from the well and bring it back home for cooking and laundry. A different kind of life than what we are used to, yet the same without modern conveniences.
Mary had some troubling questions after the angel left her with the news. What about her marriage to Joseph? Since she was bearing a child that was not his, Mary had to face the anguishing prospect of divorce and the shame it could bring down upon her in a small town that frowned on an unfaithful wife. Even though he had a high regard for her, how could she explain to Joseph the mysterious act of God and an angel no one else saw? Mary must have been a very private person for she pondered many things and keep them in her heart! That can be a lonely place.
I think about this highly favored girl riding a donkey and traveling when she was just about to give birth. Then, in a nasty ole stable, her baby boy, Jesus, was delivered…and she was highly favored? Then, when he was just toddling around, Mary and Joseph had to flee their home…quickly pack up and head out…with the fear of her child being murdered by King Herod. She also carried the weight of knowing that Jesus would be sacrificed as the Savior of the world. What kind of life Mary must have lived with so many burdens and so much to carry in her heart? Things not easily shared with even the closest of friends!
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
Perhaps Mary knew of the words of Isaiah:
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Is. 26:3
When you doubt and question the mighty and precious acts of God, remember to seek the peace of God.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
After the angel greeted her with this honored greeting, his next words were, “The Lord is with you.” How cool to be comforted with knowing that God’s personal messenger has come to you with these words! Number one, I’m highly favored. Number two, The Lord is with me. Could this be her sequence of thinking? I just kinda believe that by the angel stating that ‘The Lord was with her’, it was a powerful statement that Mary would refer to throughout the remainder of her days! Surely it made an impact! Yes, the Lord had been with the people of Nazareth for many years. The Jews were God’s chosen people, and they were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had led them out of Egypt and through the desert. The prophets proclaimed that God would send a Messiah. Now, this message became real for her. The Lord was with her and it was personal!
The next phrase spoken to Mary from the angel was, “Do not be afraid, Mary.” Humm…highly favored, The Lord is with me, don’t be afraid. What an interesting succession! If she was favored and the Lord was with her, what reason should she have to be afraid? It wasn’t until after he told her these three things that he revealed the event that would come to pass. Just maybe, she needed to hear these words spoken to help engrave them on her heart so that when storms and hardships came her way, she would remember! And they did come her way, over and over again.
So here I am, standing with wet hair and I shouted out to Brian, who had just lost his job the day before, “Mary was highly favored!” I don’t really think that he thought that I was nuts, because I’m always saying something out of the blue that relates to absolutely nothing! I ponder a lot! Then I said it again! “Mary was highly favored!” Don’t you get it? We are like Mary…chosen…favored…His special possession!
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God's special possession,
that you may declare the praises of him who called you
out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9
Our job as children of God is to declare His praises no matter what our circumstance. He loads us down with things that we think are impossible situations so that we will rely and trust in Him and grow our faith. The angel Gabriel, in Luke 1:37 reminded Mary, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” And then she submitted to God’s will as a bondservant, one who willingly serves.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18 NLT
I might add that I was intrigued at God’s choice of revelation to me over that of Job and all of his struggles. I guess He just wanted to remind me that we are:
Highly Favored ~ The Lord is with us ~ and not to be afraid!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
Bond-Servant of the Lord,
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