This time two years ago, I was walking on air. I just finished writing out my life story and knew it was going to be published immediately. Also, I just knew I was going to have a baby. God was going to bless me with another child.
Through select passages of Scripture, and life events, I could feel it coming. And so, I voiced it. I spoke it. And I believed it. I told my husband, “I’m going to get pregnant.” And in going through my writings from that time, I can see I was reading the very passages I’m reading now.
I was in the book of Luke two years ago. And on December 6, 2011, I wrote out a verse encircled by a heart. To me, confirmation a baby was on the way…
“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45
One week later, a test confirmed what I already knew to be true. And I thought it amazing that six years earlier to the very day, I found out I was pregnant with my little boy. December 13. It had to be a God thing. A child destined to arrive on my little boy’s birthday.
So, you can imagine my utter surprise when the sonogram revealed there was no heartbeat. The baby I just knew I was going to have was not going to be after all. I was heartbroken.
The following month, the manuscript I submitted to a writing competition failed. It wasn’t even in the top 66. And so, I spiraled downward into a pit of doubt, depression, and unbelief. Total confusion, for I didn’t understand. I thought I knew what was going to happen… but things just didn’t pan out the way I believed they would. Not with the book and most especially, not with the baby.
And here we are at Christmas time. Thus, I wonder about Mary… the mother of Jesus. Do you think she fully understood what was going to happen in her child’s life?
This morning I have to wonder about that. Because when the angel appeared to her, he brought good news…
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”
Do you think this good news eclipsed what she knew to be true about her child’s destiny? Do you think the excitement of carrying God’s own Son diminished what lie deep in her heart? Because Mary had to know. She was Jewish and familiar with the prophesies. Being a daughter of Abraham, she had to have known what would befall Jesus.
But Mary simply inquired how her pregnancy could be for she was a virgin. In reply, she received more good tidings. He said, “Consider your relative Elizabeth-even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, was old. And even she, a barren woman, conceived. Like Mary’s own, an absolute miracle. So she did what any woman would do. She hurried off to greet her cousin, eager to share her own good news.
Or you know, just maybe Mary wanted to witness an impossibility with her own eyes. Because the impossible was about to take place with her. A barren woman and a virgin, both with child. I imagine the sight of the old lady’s belly, swollen with life, comforted Mary. And assured her. And confirmed what was to be…
See, John leapt within his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. And Elizabeth, filled with the Spirit, proclaimed, “She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”
Mary’s response was a hymn of praise… “He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy, just as He spoken to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Yes, it’s clear. Even then, Mary must have known Jesus’ fate. For as she remembered her forefathers, she must have remembered God’s promises, too. The ones proclaimed through the mouths of prophets. She had to realize her child was not her own. Instead, He was sent for all mankind.
Even so, the old woman and the virgin spent close to three months together. And oh, what they must have shared. Delicious anticipation. And hope… wrapped up in the fate of their unborn children. For their destinies were intertwined from the beginning.
Before Zion was in labor, she gave birth; before she was in pain, she delivered a boy. Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day, or a nation be delivered in an instant? Yet as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her sons.” Isaiah 66:7-8
The time came for an old lady to give birth. And according to law and custom, the child was circumcised on the eighth day. He was given a name and at that moment, the promise of John became reality… the forerunner of Christ.
Not long after, there was another birth and another eight day. Mary’s Son. God’s own.
I imagine Mary to have been bittersweet. Filled with joy at one moment, only to be brought low within a blink of an eye. No doubt, the prophetic words of Simeon penetrated her soul and darkened the joyous day. For he told her, “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed – and a sword will pierce your own soul – that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
A sword would pierce Mary’s own soul, is what he said.
Was it then she fully understood? Did all the prophesies come crashing down upon her at that very moment? Yes, her Child was the One to come… He was the salvation and the light of the world.
But at what cost?
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like one people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:3-6
How hard it must have been for Mary to release the hold she had on her child. What was it like for her, transitioning from one who taught to being the one He taught?
At the first miracle when Jesus told His mother, “My time has not yet come,” were His words stinging? Or did relief flood her soul. Because Mary knew when His time did come, His death would be that much closer.
See, the prophets of old pointed to it. Thus, Mary knew when her Son’s time came, there would be great sorrow. And grief. As Simeon said, her own heart would be pierced.
What child was hers, and God’s, but a child destined to die…
… because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet, He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels. Isaiah 53:12
Mary knew a lot. More than any mother really wants to know, for she knew the pain of watching her child die. However, Mary also knew the hope that lie within His death.
Thus, Mary was blessed among women. For she was fully aware of God’s mercy and compassion because mercy showed up in the form of a child, knit together in her own womb. Mary intimately knew the hope of a child.
Just like her forefather, Abraham, knew the hope of children. And promises God made to Father Abraham were promises for her. And through faith, the promise of children God made to a man long ago becomes a promise for us all… today.
Like Abraham, we are promised children.
As many as the stars.
Even if we’re old, and even if we’re barren, and even if we feel like it’s too late for us, there’s still time. There is still the hope of a child. If we can believe.