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Merry Christmas!

On Wednesday nights at our church, I’ve been teaching a Moms of the Bible in the women’s discipleship class. While studying Mary’s story, I realized she left a great example we can follow. Her story is told in the first two chapters of both Matthew and Luke. I hope you’ll take time to read these passages this week for a clearer understanding of how Mary handled some hard things in her life. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Luke 1:38-39—she believed and chose to obey, then she rushed to visit Elizabeth to confirm and test God’s Word 
  • Luke 1:46-55—she must have been filled with anxiety and questions, but her first response was obedience and her second response was praise. She focused on the character of God, not her fears or problems. She set her mind on the blessings, not the difficulties that would come.
  • Luke 1:6—she sought godly counsel from Elizabeth
  • Matthew 1:18-19—she conceived and her fiancé didn’t believe her, even though he was a righteous man. Husbands won’t always get it right, but she waited for God to work on Joseph
  • Luke 2:5-7—events probably didn’t happen like she imagined (traveling, delivering alone outside with animals)
  • Luke 2:16—she didn’t get in the way of others meeting Jesus when it had to have been inconvenient for her
  • Luke 2:19—she’s treasuring all these things in her heart
  • Luke 2:35—she’s warned of future grief
  • Matthew 2:11—she didn’t let her insecurities rob her of the blessings of her hard assignment, but welcomes the Magi into her home
  • Matthew 2:13—she trusted her husband’s direction from God and moved to protect her child from a world that was out to destroy Him
  • Luke 2:40-41—she remained faithful in everyday life, taking Him to church, raising Him
  • Luke 2:51—she treasured all these things in her heart

What I learned from Mary about how to do hard things:

1- Mary didn’t ask for her hard thing, but she accepted it as from the Lord.

She didn’t accidentally or randomly end up with this hard assignment, she was specifically chosen. How did she respond? I’m a bondslave of the Lord.

  • Luke 1:26—God interrupted Mary’s life in a certain time and place and presented her with a hard ministry assignment
  • Luke 1:29-34—she was troubled, confused, afraid, she felt unqualified

Has God given you a hard thing to do? 

    • Maybe God put you in a hard church situation
    • Maybe God gave you a child with a challenging diagnosis
    • Maybe God’s told you to forgive someone who has deeply wronged you

How will you respond to the hard thing God asks of you?

2- Mary didn’t use her hard assignment as an excuse for bad behavior

  • Mary praised God instead of complaining, she recognized her part in God’s big plan 
  • Still a good wife—didn’t lord her position as God’s mother over her husband
  • Still a good mother—didn’t leave Jesus to raise Himself
  • Still a godly woman—didn’t expect special treatment or accommodation, faithful to church, faithful to her responsibilities

3- Mary didn’t feel qualified, but she believed God’s Word and trusted His plan

  • She didn’t let her insecurities or fears cheat her out of the glories and blessings 
  • Blessings were in the belief
  • She looked for wisdom/counsel in the right places: angel, Elizabeth, not a poll on FB

4- Being in the center of God’s will doesn’t mean calm instead of chaos.

  • “Things are going well, so I must be where God wants me” is NOT always truth
  • Disappointment didn’t steal her joy—delivered alone, fleeing in the night, dreading future grief
  • The peace that passes all understanding, the peace that God gives when we’re doing the hard things, is the confidence that regardless of the hard circumstances, He is working all things to His good, even while we’re in a hard place

5- She paid attention to what God was doing and captured those moments in her heart to treasure them

  • We dust treasures, and admire them often, and show them off to others
  • What were her treasures? Nothing is impossible with God, His Word is trustworthy, God blesses obedience, God has a plan bigger than me

So what about you, friend?

  • Are you doing a hard thing?
  • Are you letting disappointment or insecurity steal your joy, steal your blessing?
  • Are you focusing on your part in God’s big plan or are you focusing on your pain?

Can I encourage you to study Mary’s story for yourself, consider how she responded when God chose her to do a hard thing, notice how she treated others, see her heart of willing obedience and service to God, despite personal pain. I pray you’ll be encouraged to respond like Mary did when God chooses you for hard ministry assignments.

Have a blessed Christmas season!