Luke 2:19-20, 33-35 NLT
“..but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
33Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him.34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This Child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Mary, a hero of our faith. Blessed and highly favored. Chosen by God to carry and deliver Jesus to mankind. Visited by angels. Prophesied over. Witnessed miracles first hand. Full of faith. Yet suffered, tremendously.
We must be careful with how we define the favor of God on our life.
Having a relationship with God, or experiencing His favor does not mean we will not encounter difficulty, rejection, or opposition. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel and experience pain – deeply. At times, it’ll cut like a sword piercing through our innermost being. But when God chose Mary, He wasn’t just looking for someone who was gentle, pure and faithful. He chose her because He knew she would rise to the challenge and have the strength to endure the hardship that would come with the Promise being fulfilled. He wasn’t just looking for a virgin who’s heart was set after Him. He was looking for a warrior in the making. And the same womb that could nurture and care for this innocent Life would also require the capacity and strength to bear the weight of the adversity and hostility that would come with it.
The favor of God looks very different than what we often think it looks like (or even sometimes hope it is). Yes, He bestows goodness on us. We are His children, and we abide in a Kingdom of unlimited, vast resource. Of course we experience unlikely blessings as part of being children! But more often, His favor looks more like the strength and power to conquer and reign over the challenges that try to rule over us. We are children in a kingdom. And spiritually speaking, kings conquer with power, they rule with authority, and they raise and train their children to do the same. We serve the King above all kings. Therefore, even though we may face challenges and experience pain, the difference for us is that we can know the odds will always be…in our “favor”. Just the mere fact that God has allowed them to happen means He has also allowed and selected us to confront them, knowing that we will make it through and overcome.
I love how today’s passage starts, and here’s what I want to leave you with: Mary treasured and pondered “these things” deep in her heart. The truth of who Jesus was. The truth of what God had said to her about herself and about Him and why it was necessary for Jesus to come to earth. The truth about what He would ultimately accomplish. That’s what she deposited deep in her heart and came back to time and time again. She didn’t always see herself as strong or favored. Remember, when the angel first came to her and greeted her that way she wondered “what kind of greeting that could be”. But by continuously pondering, coming back to, meditating upon, keeping her feet firmly planted on these truths, she ultimately became what she was destined to become. She became what God had seen in her all along. Blessed and highly, highly favored.
This Christmas, maybe you’re going through some difficulties of your own. Be careful that you don’t interpret those difficulties as a lack of favor. When you picture Mary, remember that favor often looks more like having the strength and power to carry all aspects of the promises of God on your life. He is with you. Just keep going back to those things you know to be true and remember what Jesus said:
“…In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] John 16:33 AMPC
You have His favor.