This past week, for so many in the the US, unprecedented tornadoes brought destruction, grief, and sorrow. Many of us watched the news reports with tears in our eyes, hurting for those who had lost loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods. It was not hard to empathize with all those hurting because at some time or another in our lives, we’ve all known pain and loss.
During this holy season, contemplating the familiar Christmas story, we are reminded of another who suffered pain. Her pain came in the form of sorrow and shame. Mary had become pregnant. Naturally her fiancé wasn’t going to marry her. What did her parents think? The shame of the innocent, falsely accused, must be awful. Even so, we read something remarkable about Mary. First of all, when an angel from God told her she would conceive by the Holy Spirit and not a man — she believed! I find this fascinating. Mary responded to this news in Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Mary had an encounter with God and she believed Him. Mary didn’t understand how this would happen, but she believed. Her faith is confirmed when she visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also pregnant with a boy who would grow up to be John the Baptist. Elizabeth says to Mary in Luke 1:45, “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.” God intervened in the midst of her shame, appearing to her fiancé in a dream and the marriage continued as planned. God loves to intervene in our sorrow, bringing hope and peace and joy in the most unlikely of circumstances.
The definition of blessed is to be holy and happy. Mary was holy and happy because she believed God’s message. It is not any different for us today. When we read God’s promises to us, and believe them, the result will always be holiness and happiness. For all those experiencing pain and sorrow today, God said to come to Him and He will give you rest in your hurting heart. (Matthew 11:28) God said He so loves us that He holds our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8) God said if we call to Him, He will answer and show us great and mighty things that we never knew before. (Jeremiah 33:3) God said He has plans for each of us, plans for good and not evil, plans to give us both hope and a future. ( Jeremiah 29:11) There are several passages in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that talk about the compassion Jesus had on the hurting. God said He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) God says He will not leave us without comfort. (John 14:18)
The above are just a few of the numerous promises God makes to us. When we, like Mary, believe them, we are blessed in holiness and happiness.
I hope you have a Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year.