December 21, Monday           Finding Favor with God

Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to 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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

When someone unexpectedly tells me how much they appreciate me or how good I am at getting things done, I can’t help but think, “Uh, oh, what does s/he want?” I’m pretty sure I’m going to be asked to do something hard, something I wouldn’t choose to do -- or something no one else wants to do!

For Mary, God favored her. Wow, how cool! But God’s favor didn’t mean an easy, “blessed” life. In fact, Mary was beginning a long, difficult journey filled with challenges:
Pregnant teen with a suspicious fiancé;
a life of poverty and insecurity;
mom of a precocious child who challenged his parents, of a young man who often hung out with the wrong crowd; and
grief over a murdered son, whose promising life was cut short.

I doubt Mary felt very special, and she probably wondered where God was at times. But God recognized in Mary the ability to survive challenging circumstances and grow stronger from them. God chose her for a special task, and Mary was willing to trust and follow God’s direction.

A young immigrant from El Salvador faced tough times. Abandoned by his parents, he moved to the US at age 13 to live with his sister. He became involved with alcohol and drugs, never finished school, and spent almost two years in jail and immigration detention. His wife betrayed him, his marriage is in shambles, and he may lose his children. He won’t be deported, but he has no home, job, or family support system. But while he lost everything, he found Christ. He has a powerful story to share about God’s unfailing love and grace shown to someone often deemed as unworthy by society. I believe he has found favor with God, and God is using his experiences to touch the lives of others in similar circumstances.

Reflection
What special task does God have in store for you? How is God preparing you?

Prayer
Oh God, help me remember that the hard things in life don’t mean that you’ve abandoned me; perhaps they mean you’re strengthening me for something no one else can do. Help me to trust you and say, “Here I am, Lord, use me.”

By Sue Smith, CBF Field Personnel, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg Baptist Church, Virginia

 

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