Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mary, Did You Know?

Mark Lowry wrote a song a few years ago that has quickly become a holiday favorite entitled, Mary, Did You Know?  It questions whether Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew the true essence of who Jesus really was as the Son of God. There are those who respond with a resounding, “Yes, certainly she knew.” While I think she did understand that she was to be the mother of the Son of God and experienced the wonderment of that, I suggest that she didn’t know all that would be entailed in accepting that awesome task.

  Within a few months after her visit from Gabriel and her impregnation by the Holy Spirit, she felt the harsh looks and was aware of the quickly hushed whispers from members of the strict Jewish community of which she had been a part since birth. I
think her mother-heart broke over and over again as her precious son was ostracized as a child by the kids in the community, not to mention the brutal treatment he received as an adult resulting in his agonizing death by crucifixion. Did she truly know the extent of what she was saying when she told Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be unto me according to your word,” (Luke 1:38 MEV)?

Regardless of what you feel about Mary’s foreknowledge as the mother of Jesus, the question remains: What enabled her to endure in quiet humility while observing his cruel and unfair treatment from many sources, but especially by the church leaders she had been brought up to revere? Ladies, it’s the same thing that will keep you strong in your faith when life throws you “curve balls” that seek to undo you.

Mary’s absolute trust in her Heavenly Father was unshakeable and she knew that His ultimate purpose would prevail. His word was his bond.

Most of you reading this are widows. Now, we all know that we will die someday. Even Scripture is very clear about that.  “ . .. it is appointed unto man to die once. . .” (Heb. 9:7 MEV). But, can you honestly say that you were prepared for the death of your spouse? For many of you his death was a shock and for others it came after a period of suffering. Most of you were left reeling and perhaps some of you questioned God. We experience pain, sickness, death, poverty, childlessness, unwanted pregnancies, disappointments with children, financial reversals and other unpleasant occurrences that are a part of the human experience. Being a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God doesn’t change that. How do I know? Because God’s Word tells me “In the world you will have tribulation,“  (John 16:33 MEV).  So, what should a Christian woman’s response be to all of these vicissitudes of life?

Let’s look again at the response of Mary to the announcement of Gabriel.  Without consideration to what it would cost her personally, Mary could say with full assurance,

“May it be unto me according to your word,” (Luke 1:38 MEV). In other words, may everything you have said come true.  She had full faith in the words of God spoken through the angel Gabriel. No matter how the particulars played out, Mary was able to ponder each incident and rely with full assurance on the words of God. When Jesus made the announcement that we would have troubles in this life, he knew that it would not be received well. Who wants to be assured that bad times will definitely come? But, he then delivers the good news, “But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33 MEV).

  We, like Mary must believe the words of Christ and have a calm assurance that he is in control no matter what comes our way. Our faith must be rooted in our risen Savior who is the ultimate overcomer.

As women we identify with the mothering aspect of Mary’s role in Jesus’ life. We can feel her humiliation at being considered an immoral young woman, we feel her hurt as her child is mistreated by the neighborhood kids for being a “bastard,” we share her pride when Jesus becomes a rabbi, we understand her confusion over some of his teachings and activities, and we weep with her as he is brutally beaten and crucified. Of course, we also rejoice with her when Jesus is raised from the dead. What unspeakable joy she must have felt, only to realize a short time later that he was going back to his Father and to his true home. But, we don’t read of any disappointment from Mary because by this time in her life she had come to realize that she was simply a vessel chosen by God to be a part of a plan for mankind much larger than her. Living out her reply to Gabriel, “Be it unto me according to your word,” had by now become second nature to her. She willingly waited with the others in the Upper Room for the

infilling of the Holy Spirit and, upon reflection, could see how God’s plan was coming to pass.

 We must do the same, becoming stronger in our faith with each tribulation – no matter the form it takes - and someday we, too, will reflect on our lives and see the hand of God in it all. We do this by maintaining our faith in the words of our Lord. He himself told us, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away,” (Matt. 23:35 MEV).

So as we reflect on the joy of the wonderful Christmas season and look forward to the year, 2017, we are faced with a question concerning our own lives: Do we know what 2017 holds for us? We only know what Jesus told us. We know that in addition to great times, we can expect some tribulation. Perhaps for some that will be sickness, others may face financial reversals, some may make a major move and a change in lifestyle, and others may experience the death of a loved one.

But one fact remains, only God knows what lies ahead for each of us and, if we want to experience true peace of heart and mind, we must remain firm in our faith and trust in Jesus and his Word. Then and only then can we say as Mary did, “ I am the servant of the Lord. May it be it unto me according to your word.”

Message by Shari Hervold

"Mary, Did You Know" by Mark Lowry
            Have a happy & healthy New Year from all on the FNF Blogg
Dotti Ackerman, Director