Confession: I was watching some trash reality TV recently…
and the female half of an engaged couple said, “I always thought it would be sort of romantic to be pregnant at my wedding.”
I kid you not.
Back in the day, it was shameful to be pregnant out-of-wedlock. Only “bad” girls let that happen. Times have changed.
But it was shameful for a Jewish girl way back in the day (about 9 months BC) to be pregnant and unmarried. In fact, it might be cause for stoning (Deuteronomy 22: 13-21).
The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus…” Luke 1: 30-31 (ECV).
What kind of “grace” is that? What kind of unmerited gift? Getting pregnant out-of-wedlock – and with a preposterous story to tell about conceiving by the Holy Spirit? Give me a break.
That’s a gift?
I’m used to hearing that famous phrase rendered this way in most translations:
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus…” (NIV)
The typical translation isn’t much better — we’re just used to it.
I’m mean, really: found favor?
If this is the way you treat your “favored” women, then count me out!
Of course, we all know in retrospect who Mary was going to give birth to, that she truly was blessed and favored.
I wonder if for a while there Mary didn’t feel so favored, didn’t find any grace in her circumstance? And yet, she responded: “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1: 38).
Mary decided to trust God that there was a silver lining in that fearful circumstance. She opened her hand* to receive God’s gift of a difficult situation, not knowing what was going on, but trusting.
What a great lesson for me. I keep forgetting God’s silver lining.
[I] who did not spare [my] own Son, but gave him up for [you] —how will [I] not also, along with him, graciously give [you] all things? Romans 8:32
It sure didn’t look like there could be a silver lining for Mary, or the 12, or anyone who watched Jesus die.
But there was.
And that silver lining promises that all our suffering has a good purpose and is borne of God’s love.
Oh, Lord, help me to believe in your silver linings. Help me to say as Mary did, “Do whatever you want. I trust You and I thank You.” Amen
Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25, Psalm 37:1-6, Proverbs 12:8, Luke 1: 26-38. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.