“How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children!”Luke 1:25 (NLT)
Childlessness in the time of Elizabeth and Mary was a symbol of a life that harbored sin. A life that God could not bless. Elizabeth, an older woman, had lived her entire life under the gaze of her neighbors wondering just what she had done to offend God. And the wife of a Priest, no less!
Joseph, her financè, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.Matthew 1:19 (NLT)
Mary, just barely over the threshold of womanhood, was about to enter into an act of service that would render her the subject of gossip for her neighbors. Or, as her soon to be husband described it, disgrace. The pregnancy and delivery of a child for Mary would shade her entire adult life with whispers of infidelity and sin.
What Was God Doing?
The same situation, One woman’s release from disgrace, another woman’s entry into disgrace.
God was sending two miracle babies to the earth. One to prepare the way, one to make a way back to him for all of us. Both babies had a personal impact on the lives of their mothers that went beyond the joys and heartaches of motherhood. One was vindicated, the other was shamed.
I wish I had an insightful explanation to offer you for God’s actions. But I don’t! God can do whatever he pleases. He does not offer us all the same life. We each have our own private path to walk with him. But he offers us all the same salvation. And the two women who meeting with similar challenges in life played an important role in making that possible.
What I do see here is that God had intended for these women to encourage each other. My heart swells at the love and care he displays for two women doing hard things.
What are the chances that a teenaged girl from Nazareth and a silver-haired woman from the hill country of Judea would even know each other, much less be related? Only God could do that. And why? Well, I believe in my deepest being that Elizabeth was a gift to Mary.
Elizabeth had already experienced years of the whispers that Mary would suffer. She was experiencing her own miracle announced by the angel Gabriel. So when Mary ran to her side, they spent those three months marveling. And Elizabeth believed Mary before she was even told the story, unlike most of those around her, including her espoused Joseph. She walked with Mary as she prepared and just as her son would prepare the way for our savior, this soon to be mother, prepared the way for the woman would bear the savior.
Serving One Another
They brought out the best in one another. Elizabeth encouraged. Mary moved from faithful obedience to joyful praise. No doubt Mary was hands and feet for the ponderous Elizabeth since she was a strong young woman not yet burdened by the physical weight of her babe. Elizabeth likely shared with Mary from her years of faith and experience with the local gossips.
God has given us each other. Even when we don’t understand. When it makes little sense and our personal circumstances are hard. As I think more on this, I realize that God’s goodness manifests in so many ways we overlook. I want to resolve to look around. To ask myself where is God at work to offer me encouragement and a friend on life’s path?
How thankful I am that God may allow challenges into our lives, some that are incredibly difficult, but he never intended for us to walk into these challenges alone. When we ask “Why” we may never get our answer in this life. But do not believe for one second that God is not answering because of disinterest. And even when we don’t have answers, we still have his tender care lavished on us in so many ways. And that way may very well be a friend. So walk alongside those who are older, or younger. Those with less faith or more. Those just beginning the hard path and those who are finally seeing the exit ramp to a difficult road. Be there.
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
For who can know the LORD’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to give him advice?
And who has given him so much
that he needs to pay it back?
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)
One More Thing…
In case you wonder, I was researching Elizabeth because I’m writing a story about her. I can’t wait to share it with you! Stay tuned.