This morning I was reading in the book of Luke, the story about Mary and how the angel visited her and told her she has found “favor” with God. In fact, 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. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
As I read the passage the word “favor” popped out at me. Mary found “favor” with God. I wonder if Mary thought it was good that she found “favor” with God. As we read on we hear Mary’s response. She first asked the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Finally, Mary responds, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
When we think of the definition of “favor” in our day and age, we may think about a party “favor” and we receive a little trinket or candy at a child’s birthday party. We may feel our parents show favor to our brother or sister. We give someone or something they want, a favor. Even in our prayer lives, we may ask God to show “favor” on a situation or circumstance. We may be asking God to heal a person’s physical condition or fix a conflict. Mary found favor with God and how did her “favor” circumstances play out?
Because Mary found favor with God she endured ridicule and judgment because she was pregnant before marriage. She was about to enter into a new season in her life and would marry Joseph, set up house, have kids etc. Instead, she became pregnant, left her familiar world, and traveled to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus in a stable. Right out of the block her “favor” with God was not very favorable.
We are going to skip over to the end of Jesus's life and watch Mary’s favor being played out in an extremely painful way. We all struggle as moms when we see our kids suffer. What is the saying, “we are happy as our saddest child.” In our heart of hearts, we love our children deeply and when they are going through painful times we are going through painful times. And for us to step in and fix the situation is interrupting the work that God wants to do in their lives. I remember sitting in the emergency room, my son had just gone through a fractured tibia a couple of months earlier, and now he was back in the emergency room for a fractured wrist. I remember when the doctor told my husband and me the news I melted in tears. I just felt so bad for him and there was nothing I could do about it. It is the helplessness to fix the situation. Now, I understand that compared to Mary’s situation, mine is minor. Mary had to watch her son be spit on, called names, lied about, and slandered. He was treated like a criminal and died a criminal's death. And she could not rescue him.
Mary’s favor by God was an extreme honor as God knew Mary’s character and how she walked with the Lord. God knew that she would walk on this earth, even with extreme heartache and helplessness over her son’s betrayal and torturous death, and she would remain faithful to God. Luke 1:46, Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
Mary’s “favor” showed that ultimately God would get the glory through her life. She would commit her will to the Lord, however, her life was to play out. Her “favor” was a spiritual favor, not a party favor. It is the kind of “favor” with God that we should all desire. It is the kind of favor where we grow in Christlikeness and live our lives to the glory of God no matter what we encounter in life.
In Charles Spurgeon’s book, Beside Still Waters, he writes: “Do not think that as you grow in grace your path will become smoother and the sky calmer and clearer. Quite the contrary. As God gives you greater skill as a soldier of the cross, He will send you on more difficult missions. As He more fully equips your ship to sail in storms, He will send you on longer voyages to more boisterous seas, so that you may honor Him and increase in holy confidence.”
Mary’s first assignments we overwhelming but she was gaining strength and perseverance in her relationship with God so that when the darkest hour came to her life, her son’s death, she was prepared with a greater skill for this most difficult mission. And then ultimately God received all the glory!
God found “favor” with Mary. Mary submitted her will to the Lord and glorified Him.