Blessing comes through Faith
Mary, in the early stages of her pregnancy, travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to south of Jerusalem. The move may have removed her from malicious tongues and even stoning as her maternity became more evident. But it was also to reassure her that God’s purpose was being worked out in her body. Mary went to stay with her formerly barren and aging relative, Elizabeth, who was then six months pregnant with John. These women were separated by many years: Elizabeth was way past the menopause and Mary was a virgin teenager, yet God had done a miracle in each of them. The old lady, Elizabeth, was carrying her old husband's baby. It was God's idea, even though Zechariah did not believe and was struck dumb for his faithlessness. Yet, that punishment was also a sign of God's powerful rebuke; and so he did sleep with his wife, who miraculously conceived (Luke 1:11-25).
Elizabeth had faith in God. As Mary arrived in her home, the Holy Spirit moved the baby John to jump in her womb and Elizabeth to speak prophetically about the identity of Mary's child. What a great affirmation that must have been to Mary. There is no indication that her faith was deficient, but God provided sufficient signs that He was in control so that Mary's faith would be sustained for the task ahead, including the crucifixion ordeal. Every episode was treasured (Luke 2:19), and the Holy Spirit used them to help her keep trusting the Son of God, and their Heavenly Father.
Mary was declared outstandingly ‘blessed’, as would be the Son she bore. But Elizabeth was clear that Mary’s blessing was the result of her confident faith in what God would do later. Mary believed the promise before it had been fulfilled. But Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, did not believe and was not blessed until he praised God after the promise had come true (Luke 1:62-65).
However dramatic our early encounters with God, faith is not easy in the darkest days. Yet God graciously provides us with enough confirmation so that our hearts can hold on, even when we cannot see. Luke got this account first-hand from Mary in her old age: and Elizabeth's prophecy was still ringing in her ears, ‘Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’ That is also true for us. We are called to trust the same Lord. Every new day is a test of faith. So, start today by considering all the ways the Lord has led you, all the promises He has fulfilled, and thank Him for every way in which He has confirmed your calling as a follower of Jesus. Then go confidently, with the assurance that God is with you and will keep all His promises (Psalm 119:38).
© Dr Paul Adams