Scripture: Luke 1:39-45
In his book The Journey, Adam Hamilton writes:
Imagine Mary’s feelings as she heard Elizabeth’s words. It had been at least ten days since Gabriel had appeared to Mary with his confusing announcement. She had spent the last nine days traveling with her secret, uncertain, afraid, and wondering how any of this could be true. But then, before she could even tell Elizabeth what had happened, Elizabeth showed that she knew Mary’s secret, and Elizabeth was filled with joy on Mary’s behalf. Elizabeth went on to say, in essence, “Listen, child, you don’t have to be afraid. You’ve been blessed. Blessed! Don’t you see it? You’ve been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.
Elizabeth tells Mary three times that she’s blessed. But what does it mean to be blessed?
Not usually what we think it means—especially during this Christmas shopping season when non-stop television and radio commercials convince us that our blessings are things we can own and touch!
God’s blessings are different: For one thing, they often come with pain and suffering. It was certainly true in Mary’s case! Her blessings even came with a “sword,” as the prophet Simeon told her shortly after Jesus’ birth: “A sword will pierce your own soul” (Luke 2:35), likely a reference to watching her son die on the cross.
I’m reminded of this profound song by singer-songwriter Laura Story, called “Blessings.” It includes these words:
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?
God wants to give us more than the “lesser things” that we so often think we want.
Do you trust that God knows what we need more than we do? Can you name an experience in which your trials were God’s “mercies in disguise”? Do you agree with this statement by C.S. Lewis? “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” Why or why not?