Have you ever stopped to think about how God chose Mary to be His vessel for Christ’s entrance into the world? Have you ever stopped to think why He chose you? We know from Scripture that God knows each one of us intimately, before we are even born.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).
Do you marvel at the wonders of God? Even before you were born, He appointed a set number of days for you to live. According to Ephesians 2:10, you were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." During this pandemic every Christian should be a shining light for Jesus. Pointing the way to salvation. So, why isn't that happening?
We do not always adhere to God's plans and His ways. The Scripture is true when it says, "We all like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6). We have the unbelievable God-given ability of free will, the right to choose to obey God or disobey Him. Amazingly, He knows what we will say before we say it and what we will do before we do it. Yet even when we defy Him, He does not give up on us. Instead, He continues to love us. So much so, He decided to send His Son to earth to teach us how to live. And He chose a young maiden whose days He had ordained before she was born. He knew her heart, and He knew she was obedient to Him.
Twice in Luke 1:26-38, the angel Gabriel tells Mary she is highly favoured. The Greek term in verse 28 is translated "charitoō" (khä-rē-to'-ō) and means three different characteristics that all apply to Mary:
In verse 30, Gabriel tells Mary she has found favour with God, and it means something slightly different. The root "charis" (khä'-rēs) in this case means:
God "prepared in advance" the character qualities Mary would have. He honoured her with these blessings and looked on her as someone who brought Him joy, pleasure and delight. So when He came to her with the news that she would bear the Messiah, He knew how she would react, for she was "highly favoured."
Can you imagine being so loved and respected by God that He would honour you in such a way?
Well, guess what? God loves you as much as He loved Mary! And she obediently surrendered to God's desires for her life, knowing that doing so would bring her hardship. Like her Son, she denied herself and took up her cross and was obedient to the Lord. And God was pleased, and He brought honour to her by using her for His good purposes. Mary knew she was about to face a world full of trouble and hurt when her friends and family discovered she was pregnant. During those days, she could be stoned to death. Yet she said yes to God.
God has also prepared you in advance for His good works. Your gifts, talents, character qualities - everything about you is for a specific purpose He has ordained. Are you unhappy with your life? Perhaps you haven't yet learned what it means to take up your cross, deny yourself and follow Jesus.
God looked on Mary with favour because He knew she placed Him first. She surrendered to His will. She took up her cross and denied herself before her Son even taught us what that meant. How are you behaving and reacting during this pandemic? Are you afraid and acting out your fear in ways that are unbecoming for a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you hoarding supplies? Are you demanding your rights and protesting that you have a right to worship and assemble? Are you berating the government because you can't work? Do you believe in conspiracy theories that range from the pandemic being a worldwide government conspiracy, to 5G networks causing it, to Bill Gates invented it? Have you forsaken common sense in favour of fear? Or are you using this time as a disciple of Christ to take up your cross and follow Jesus?
This is not the time for Christians to be demanding that they have the right to assemble to worship. But it is the time when we lay down our lives for the sake of others. Now is the time when followers of Jesus need to shine and be the light God created them to be. It is not our calling to be political. It is our calling to take up our cross and follow Jesus. God knew this pandemic was coming. He knows how it will end. Are you trusting Him with it?
Mary trusted God and surrendered her life to His will. Are you willing to do the same? Her sacrifice was so much more than what we are being asked to do. But our sacrifice of staying home can literally save lives!
Trust God. He's got this. Take up your cross and follow Him.