Have you ever imagined what it must have been like for young Mary to be told she was going to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah? Most of us are probably familiar with the story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary. It’s wonderful and exciting to reread the story of Mary receiving the joyous news that she was going to be carrying God’s Son, the Savior of the world! But when you go back to the story, it’s important to see that Mary’s first response was not joy and wonder, but one of uncertainty and fear. Mary wasn’t expecting to receive a visit from an angel any more than we would expect something like this to happen to us on an ordinary day! She was afraid and confused.
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” -Luke 1:26-29
I love that the Bible doesn’t leave out this part of the story. For me, this is the Mary that I relate to and understand. It’s easy to see characters in the Bible as just that: characters. But we need to remember that these are real people who lived real lives just like ours!
Contrary to many false beliefs, Mary was not perfect. We know this is true because the Bible tells us that there is no one perfect but God Himself. (Romans 3:23, Mark 10:18) Knowing this, it makes it easier to read this part of the story knowing that Mary was a real woman who loved God and still found life to be frightening and full of questions.
Because Mary’s reaction was a real one, we get to see how God responds to us when are afraid or question His plan. Gabriel did not go find another woman who would respond better. He didn’t rebuke or lecture her about her lack of faith or trust in God. The first thing we see Gabriel do in response to Mary’s understandably troubled reaction is to reassure her with WORDS OF COMFORT.
Gabriel’s response at seeing Mary greatly troubled was this:
“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’” -Luke 1:30-33
First, He told her not to fear and reminded her that God loved her. He had already told her this when he first showed up and greeted her as “O favored one!” But Mary was so overcome with fear that she needed to be reminded again in that moment that God was pleased with her. He loved her. This is something that we should all be reminded of on a daily basis. God wants to tell us in our moments of fear or uncertainty, “Remember, I LOVE YOU!” Mary had literally just heard that God favored her moments before, and rather than receiving a lecture on her lack of faith, Gabriel just told her again.
This is why our Bibles are crammed full of the promises of God! His love, His faithfulness, His goodness, His provision, His comfort! We need to be reminded of these things just like Mary did! When you find yourself in a moment of fear or doubt, get into the promises of God! Open your Bible, and let the Holy Spirit remind you of His very great and precious promises! (2 Peter 1:4)
Finally, I want to point out that after this reminder from Gabriel of God’s favor for Mary and the wondrous things that were going to take place, Mary was bold enough to ask questions! She didn’t understand HOW God was going to make this happen because she was a virgin. There are many times that I don’t understand things and have questions, and I love that we have this example of Mary’s boldness and honesty even with the angel Gabriel! We can ask God when we don’t understand something He has told us, and He wants to GIVE US HOPE!
Gabriel answered Mary’s question of “how this was to be” in this way:
“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’” -Luke 1:34-37
He gave her a brief answer and then He gave her reason to place her TRUST IN GOD: Nothing is impossible with God! Sometimes, we don’t receive all the information we think we need to understand why or how things happen in our lives. But we have a God we can trust. Whether you find yourself in a situation you don’t understand or can’t see how things are going to work out, remember in Whom you trust!
And Mary’s ultimate response after hearing these words was this:
“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” -Luke 1:38
Isn’t this the heart we want to have as well? Bringing our fears and uncertainties to our Heavenly Father, receiving His WORDS OF COMFORT and love, and being reminded that we can TRUST Him! May we be His servants, His children—fully trusting in His plans for us and saying, “Let it be to me according to Your word.” And may this beautiful response resonate in our hearts as we remember the God we trust, His unending LOVE for us, and the miracle of Christmas.