Learning from a servant girl

Luke 1:40-49 NLT
[Mary] entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a loud cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed…

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”

Everything was not straightforward for Mary. She was young, unmarried, and pregnant. This last fact could ruin her future. Her pregnancy was a threat to her marriage, her security, her future standing in society. She was not ideally situated in life to have a baby. If only God could have waited a few months then no one would have noticed and her pregnancy could have been a cause of rejoicing. Her life was not proceeding as she had imagined it would, things were not going according to plan. How was she to respond?

Mary rejoiced. She did not know how she would cope. She did not know how things would turn out. She did not know what Joseph or her parents would say, not to mention the whole community of Nazareth, her home town. Perhaps these anxieties were part of the reason she decided to visit her relative Elizabeth. But whether these things worried her or not we don’t know. All we know is that her first words to Elizabeth were an expression of joy. Did Elizabeth already know? Had Mary written to her? Could Mary write? Or was Elizabeth’s exclamation on Mary’s arrival pure “word of knowledge,” a supernatural gift of the Spirit?

We don’t know the answer to these questions, but what we do know from what Luke recorded, is that deep within her being Mary was happy. She was more than happy. Her soul was rejoicing, and her spirit broke forth in praise for God. She knew that in the eyes of the world she was no one. She was a person of very little significance to anyone except her immediate family and friends. Just another uneducated village girl who would soon be married to a carpenter and then live out her life, if she survived childbirth, bearing children and caring for her husband and children.

But now, through an unplanned pregnancy, she would bear an extraordinary son, and deep in her heart she knew that the world would never be the same again. She didn’t know how this could end well, but she knew deep down that it would. She didn’t know how she she would navigate the days ahead as her pregnancy became known to the community, but she knew that if God could make her pregnant in this bizarre way, that he could take care of her through the days that followed. Her life would never be the same again, and she realized that she would not go to her grave an unknown village girl from Nazareth. She realized that from then on all generations would call her blessed.

Mary did not question her situation. She had met an angel and she had believed his words. She accepted that what had happened to her was from God. She certainly had many things to think about, many questions to ask. She clearly felt more comfortable talking to her relative Elizabeth than her mother. Her mother may not have even been alive, who knows. But she knew that Elizabeth’s pregnancy was also “special,” an unexpected gift from God, so it is little wonder that she sought her out. Elizabeth’s first words were a confirmation to her that the child growing within her was no ordinary child. We can only imagine what they talked about for the three months they were together.

Why had all this happened? Why had God chosen her, a lowly servant girl? He could have chosen anyone for this purpose, why choose a nobody? Mary’s answer is simple. “The Mighty One is holy.” Just that. She could not understand his actions, but she knew that God was holy, and does wonderful things. She did not know why God had done what he had done, but she was confident that things would turn out all right, because she believed that He was holy.

God is holy, and he does great things. Often not in the way we would imagine. Often not in the way we have planned for our lives, or even that we want. Our lives may be uncertain and unpredictable, but our God is not. He is holy and can be trusted. It is good if our spirits rejoice as Mary’s did, in the midst of the uncertainty of our lives.

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