The popular Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know” asks Mary if she knows what she is getting into by giving birth to the Son of God. When the angel of God appeared to her, he said that she had found favor with God. She was bewildered. What had she done to be noticed by God? Scripture doesn’t say why God chose her.
When Jesus was 8 days old, an old man named Simeon told Mary that a sword would pierce her very soul. He said this God child would cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. This babe had been sent as a sign from God, but many would oppose him. And as a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts would be revealed. She realized her days would not be easy.
As a twelve year old, Jesus was a growing boy. As he grew physically and spiritually, he found favor with God and man. That favor lay upon him as he matured and began his ministry, but it didn’t exempt him from terrible abuse and suffering at the hands of his accusers. Favor led him straight to his death on the cross.
Mary had pondered many unanswered questions in her heart ever since she found out she was going to be a mother. After all, this God child was born from her virgin womb. How is that even possible? Did Mary feel favored when she searched frantically for her twelve year old son who disappeared for three days while meeting with leaders in the temple? Did Mary know that favor meant that she would endure the most heart wrenching days of her life as her son was tortured and killed? Did she ever wonder if God’s favor was supposed to be so difficult? I wonder if she pondered what kind of favor this was meant to be, since it caused some of the most heartbreaking times of her life.
Don’t be afraid. You have found favor with God. Luke 1:30
At times, we pray for favor. We ask for God’s blessing on our lives. We’re asking for health, wealth and happiness. We’re hoping bad times escape us. We hope the trials of life somehow miss us. We want our blessings to be just that, blessings with no sort of hurt or trouble in the mix.
Does the mother of a special needs child feel as if she’s found favor when her responsibility for her child is as overwhelming as her love is? Does the grandchild who’s caring for their elderly grandmother feel favored when time and funds are in high demand and short supply?
What is God’s favor anyway? Do we think God’s favor has been removed from us when we suffer? When we endure hardships or trials? Paul wrote that we are to rejoice when we run into problems and trials. Don’t we know that those trials will produce endurance? Endurance develops strength of character. Strength of character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. God says this hope will not lead to disappointment. I see favor written all over our suffering. Favor that God has paved a way for us straight to Calvary. He hasn’t forgotten us or abandoned us. He who suffered for us is with us in our suffering.
For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:1-2, 5
Undeserved privilege. Favor. Mercy. Peace. Joy. Confidence. Because of God’s great love for us, we can confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing His glory. But if we say we want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead, why do we try to avoid the fellowship of suffering that comes with it?