“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 1:48 & 49
These are the words of Mary, the young girl chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Wow. A virgin pregnant with the Son of God. What happened to her was beyond human understanding. Beyond human belief. Mary faced ridicule, rejection and a possible divorce form the man she was pledged to marry. To sing a song of praise to her God was a pretty remarkable thing. After all, she was just a child herself. A teenage girl. Have you ever wondered if you, at such a time as this…in the faith with which you possess at this moment…could have paused with a song in your heart to praise the Mighty One?
I was saved at the age of eight. Being a preacher’s daughter I grew up in the church. I began memorizing Bible verses and singing hymns loaded with Christian doctrine from the moment I began to talk. I believe I loved Jesus even before I asked Him to be my Savior, but if I’m to be completely honest, I didn’t have the faith of Mary during my teenage years. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit I was more like a prodigal who wanted to go my own way and rebel against the God of my father.
Not Mary, though. She had a special place in God’s heart because of her faith: “Do not be afraid, Mary (the angel told her), you have found favor with God..,.For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1: 30 & 37
Scripture tells us more than once that Mary “pondered things in her heart.” She treasured the moments God gave her an understanding of heavenly things. Like the time the shepherds ran to worship Jesus in His humble birthplace because angels told them to and the time Simeon prophesied over Jesus in the temple when He was dedicated. These things happened to encourage Mary’s faith. Without a doubt, she believed God. She even knew that one day a sword would pierce her heart. On the day she knelt at the foot of the Cross and watched her son die, her heart was torn in two. I’m sure she thought it would never mend. But it did.
Mary’s faith may have been big at the time the angel of God came to her as a young teenage girl, but her faith became great when she no longer saw Jesus as her son but as her Savior. Acts, Chapter 1, tells us that after Jesus ascended into heaven, Mary joined the disciples in constant prayer before Pentecost. All the things she had treasured in her heart as she raised the Son of God gave her an understanding of His purpose on earth and prepared her for salvation. Her grief and suffering at the Cross was beyond what most of us will ever experience on this earth. She witnessed Jesus’ agonizing death and responded with a mother’s heart, but it was in her suffering that she found God to be faithful and true. He raised her son from the dead and His Spirit would live forever in her, as He does in us. Even Mary had to grow up in her faith.
What I’m discovering in my later years is that I’m never to stop “growing up” in my faith. Neither are you. Our trials and our sufferings on this earth aren’t meant to defeat us. They’re meant to refine us. In these last days when our faith is threatened and evil seems to prevail, we’re to be a people who keep our feet firmly planted on the Solid Rock.
Isaiah 7:9 says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”
The original Hebrew meaning of the word “firm” in this verse means: to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse.
In my personal interpretation, I see a faith that is always growing; a faith that is constantly nourished and nurtured. Sometimes that means I have to praise God when things don’t make sense, just as Mary did, because Scripture tells us that He inhabits the praises of His people. It doesn’t mean I praise Him for cancer or death or a broken heart. I praise Him because He is God. Because He is mighty and reigns victorious and through my suffering He will bring about a good work in me. And I pray. With all the saints, I pray.
I love the mustard seed necklace my parents gave me a few years ago. I wear it to remind me of the lessons Jesus teaches us in Scripture about faith:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17: 20 & 21
As I reflect on the birth of Christ this Christmas season, l want to be a woman of praise. I want to be a woman whose branches shelter the lost, the hurting, the suffering of this world. I want to be a woman who digs her roots deep into the nourishing soil of God’s Word and allow the Water of Life to move within me in love and power. I want to be a woman who shows a world of doubters what it means to rise up in belief and say,
“My God is a Mountain-Mover! Watch Him Move!”
I don’t want to be satisfied with little girl faith. If little faith can do a lot then don’t you wonder what big girl faith will do? It doesn’t matter how many people want to take Christ out of Christmas, He still lives. He still reigns. He still comes to the Mary’s of this world, to those who have learned to treasure the gift of faith, who believe all things are possible with God.