This essay is a follow up to the Extraordinary Women of the Bible study. We recommend first completing your lesson and discussing it with your group before reading this post.
Has has God surprised you?
By: Dorabeth Hickernell
Mary, a descendant of David in the tribe of Judah, was a very young woman when she received a most unexpected visitor who delivered what seemed like a wild and crazy message from God. The messenger claimed that Mary would soon find herself pregnant even though she had never had sex. Even more startling, her baby would be the long-awaited Messiah, the promised king who would inherit David’s throne and rule over Israel forever. Of all the women in Israel, God was choosing a very poor woman who was engaged to an equally poor carpenter who both lived in Nazareth, a town despised by many Jews, to be the mother of the Savior of the world! Mary was understandably perplexed and filled with questions. Nevertheless, Mary believed the angel’s message. She believed that she would become pregnant with the Son of God, but she could not understand how it would happen. Mary legitimately wondered how a virgin could give birth to a child. It would be a miracle, of course!
Mary’s life portrays how belief and perplexity are often found walking hand-in-hand. We trust that God will be true to his promises, plans and character, but we cannot figure out how he will do it amongst the confines of our current circumstances. Our finite minds struggle to comprehend the thinking and the ways of our infinite God, but in the process our faith grows as does the knowledge that God is everything he claims to be.
Mary’s response to the angel’s message is enviable. She absolutely surrendered herself to God and demonstrated unreserved obedience saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary’s life was hanging in perfect balance. God was God and she was his trusting, humble maidservant. Do you respond to God with absolute surrender and unreserved obedience? Do you also, like Mary, give yourself to God body, soul and spirit?
Joy compelled Mary to burst into a song that she wrote which is known as the Magnificat and is full of quotations and allusions to scripture. As Mary sang, her words revealed that she knew God intimately and gave testimony to God’s faithfulness, power, holiness and mercy. Mary’s life and song are a reminder that God does not operate like the world around us. In fact, through Jesus, God has and will continue to turn the world’s systems upside down. The humble will scatter the proud. The weak will dethrone the mighty. The hungry will be filled with good things. The rich will become poor. Nobodies will become somebodies.
Mary’s life was not without difficulty. Her first pregnancy was likely scorned and ridiculed as many would falsely assume that it was the product of adultery. Then, later as Jesus’ ministry became public, she watched as her beloved son was misunderstood, maligned, mistreated and eventually crucified. Yet, Mary believed, and her song sums up her life, “From now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me.” What is your testimony? What has the Mighty One done for you?