About a half of a lifetime ago I was leading a youth music group to Scotland on a summer missions trip. I was being hosted by a lovely Scottish family, who in the course of conversation told me that they were still in a bit of recovery from having lost a five-year-old son in the past year to some disease that took him rather suddenly. Even in the midst of their grief, they modelled the joy of faith and life in Christ.
It was quite remarkable, and my understanding of their faith was informed by what the father told me of his experience. He said, “This is the thought that has given me the most comfort: If God had come to me six years ago and said, ‘I have this precious child that I need someone to give a home for five years, but then I’m going to take him back with me, would you be willing to do that?’”
And the father, with moisture gathering in his eyes, looked at me and said, “I would have certainly said to God in answer to that question, ‘Absolutely, YES, we will take that assignment.’ So why should I be angry about my loss when I have so much to be thankful for about the great blessing we received?”
That would be a tough assignment. It is difficult to give your heart away to uncertain situations. And that is what, for example, makes foster home parents such fantastic people in my book! But honestly, most of life is quite uncertain.
God sometimes gives people some tough assignments to carry out in the context of a difficult, sinful and fallen world. Mary could justly say that God dropped on her a pretty tough job. Along with the issue of the social stigmatization of the pregnancy, there was the challenge of raising and having this unique child in one’s home.
Looking ahead, at the cross we see Mary … apparently Joseph had died somewhere along the way … watching her son on a Roman cross. Talk about a brutal assignment!
But Mary accepted this assignment from God … immediately … no doubting or delaying. Over and over we see this with the main characters of the incarnation story. That a type of “character” we should strive to be as well!
Luke 1:26 – In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
The angel went back to heaven and said to the Lord, “That Mary is one impressive young woman! She didn’t put up any fuss or resistance. All she said was, ‘OK, cool.’’
Alright, yes, I did add that last paragraph. But it’s believable.