Blessing comes through Faith
Mary, in the early stages of pregnancy, went to stay with her relative Elizabeth who was 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. Aged 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 a sign of God's power and so he did sleep with his wife, who miraculously conceived (see Luke 1:11-25).
But Elizabeth had faith in God. As Mary arrived, the Holy Spirit moved the baby John to jump 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 (see Luke 2:19), and the Holy Spirit used them to help her keep trusting the Son of God, and their Heavenly Father.
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 what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" That is also true for us. We are called to trust the same Lord. Every year is a test of faith, so start by considering all the way the Lord has led you, and thank Him for every way in which He has confirmed your calling as a follower of Jesus. Then go confidently into the year, with the assurance that God is with you and will keep all His promises.
© Dr Paul Adams