Sitting in church that Christmas Eve night, snow was blowing outside (a rare event for this Texas town), mere days before giving birth to my son, I felt a connection to Mary I hadn’t experienced before. Sure, I wasn’t carrying the child of God, nor was I an unwed teenager, but still I couldn’t help but feel a closeness. Even though our pregnancies were vastly different, I could feel the mix of hope, anticipation, fear, and uncertainty that must have filled her heart.
As I listened closely to the scripture reading of her visit from the angel Gabriel, I tuned into Mary’s emotions. Fear when the angel appeared. Anxiety about what a “yes” answer would mean for her life. Trepidation at having to explain this to her parents and to Joseph. Yet, scripture doesn’t talk about those emotions. Instead, scripture tells a story of hope and unshakeable faith. The fear and anxiety and trepidation are from our worldly view, but Mary’s hope and faith are from God.
I sat there in my own uncertainties and unspoken worries in complete awe of Mary. How could I have such hope and faith as Mary?
How can you have the hope of Mary?
How I long to have such unshakable faith in the face of such adversity.
Such strength to face the world in order to follow where God leads.
Such steadiness and readiness to say “yes” when God calls.
Such trust in God through adversity and uncertainty.
Such hope in God’s promises despite the world’s darkness and doubt.
I found some answers in the story of Mary’s call to become the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38, 46-55). Let’s see how you and I can also have the hope of Mary, no matter what we face.
Light the Advent Hope Candle
On this first week of Advent, we light the candle of hope. Let’s lean in together and look for hope in Mary’s story in Luke 1:26-56. You’ll find 3 reasons you, too, can have hope – the hope of Mary – on even the darkest days.
3 Reasons to Have Hope (even on the darkest days)
1) God is with you
The angel greets Mary in verse 28, saying “The Lord is with you” and reminds her how much God loves her. We don’t have to be in the presence of an angel for God to be near. He’s always with you. God loves you dearly and is by your side no matter what you face.
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28 (NIV))
Mary’s response was to praise God. She gives us a beautiful prayer full of praise and adoration for the God who loves her.
And 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.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
For the Mighty One has done great things for me —
Holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49 (NIV))
Our response should also be praise and adoration. The more we lean into praising and adoring the God who is always by our side, the more we’re reminded of his goodness and the reason for our hope in him. We have hope because we have God by our side.
When you feel alone, remember God is with you. Find hope by praising and adoring the God who loves you no matter what and who is always by your side.
2) God says, “Do not be afraid”
After the angel greets Mary, he immediately tells her “do not be afraid”. That’s a tall order, right? An angel appears out of nowhere and she’s not supposed to be afraid? Yet, we hear this reassurance in nearly every Holy encounter in scripture. When God speaks into our hearts, he reminds us to not be afraid. As if the angel knows Mary’s first instinct will be fear, he cuts to the chase and tells her first not to be afraid.
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 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. 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.” (Luke 1:29-33 (NIV))
Can you feel her shoulders relax a little at the words “do not be afraid”, maybe she was even able to catch her breath a little? Her heart opened to trust what came next.
When you feel troubled, remember the angel’s words, “do not be afraid” and place your trust in God.
3) God’s word never fails
After the angel presents Mary with what must have seemed the most outrageous call from God, he reminds her that God’s word never fails. All the impossibility of the angel’s statements summed up in one sentence: “For no word from God will ever fail.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1: 34-37 (NIV))
Can you imagine the questions, worries, and fears that must have started swirling in Mary’s mind as she listened to all the angel had said? Yet, look how hope overtook them all with this reminder from the angel. With the reminder that God’s word never fails, Mary gathers herself and decides to place her trust – her life – in God’s hands.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:38 (NIV))
When you feel overwhelmed, remember God’s word never fails. So, say “yes” to place your life in God’s hands and follow where he leads.
Have the hope of Mary, even in your darkest moments
When the world seems dark…
When your circumstances seem overwhelming…
When the challenges in your life seem insurmountable…
Remember these 3 truths Mary learned from the angel Gabriel:
1) God is with you and loves you dearly —> so praise and adore him for all his goodness
2) God says do not be afraid —> so place your trust in God and let him carry your burdens
3) God’s word never fails —> so say “yes” to place your life in God’s hands and follow where he leads
Unwrap the Best Gifts of Christmas
Want to unwrap more hope this Christmas? The Gift of Christmas daily Advent devotional will help you not only find more hope in this season of Christmas, but also open the gifts of peace, joy, and love of Jesus. Slow down and savor the meaning of the season, opening the best gifts God has waiting for you.