“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1: 38
This statement pronounced by young Mary over a couple of thousands of years ago continues to be one of the most profound affirmations of faith and one of the most powerful examples of trust spoken by a mortal that we find in all of the Scriptures. Mary’s simple words show the complexity of accepting God’s will in our lives. They show that for God’s will to be done, to be fulfilled in our lives we must surrender…we must first become the Lord’s servants…
That’s the revelation of true trust…we trust that God’s will is good…that it is perfect rather, so much so that we are ready to submit our own will to His. We do it because, even though we can’t really understand it, we know it is the best plan…it is the plan that will bring Him the glory…so we surrender to it…for the joy of our Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8: 10)
Mary’s words of acceptance always make me think about how hard it is to surrender to God’s plan for me. This year, however, in addition to that, these words have also made me think of how hard it is to accept God’s plan for those we love.
It is one thing to surrender to the hardship that the will of God often brings to ourselves because, deep inside, we know that the suffering is temporary, only for a little while (1 Peter 5: 9-10). We know that our current difficulties will bring about ultimate reward (Romans 8: 18). We know that God’s unique kind of love for us is demonstrated in His desire to make us better and draw us closer, which at times, it requires chastisement and pain (2 Corinthians 7: 9-10). We accept His designs because we know that He works all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8: 28). We trust His plan, because, even when we don’t understand it, we know it is perfect, good and made to prosper us not to harm us (Jeremiah 29: 11).
When it comes to those we love, though…for instance, our children…things may be a tad different. The feelings we experience may be a bit more unstable. The pain may be a whole lot more intense.
We hold our babies in our arms and we can’t help but dream wonderful dreams for them. We see them take their first steps and we can’t help but imagine the amazing places they will go. We watch them develop and we can’t help but appreciate the untapped potential inside of them and the incredible things they could do with it. Then, we blink, and they have grown into someone we never expected.
We pray that God will direct their paths. We pray that God will tell us what to do to help them. We pray that God will change things around…we pray because we don’t particularly like what we perceive God’s plan is turning out to be…we pray and cry and manipulate things in hopes that our children and loved ones would choose the right path…and we pray and cry and despair when we realize they won’t.
Suddenly, when pain, suffering and hardship become obviously part of God’s plan for those we love the most, surrendering to God’s will for them doesn’t come.
Then, we realize they too are God’s servants…
Then, we realize that they too have to go through it, just like we have to…
Then, we realize that there is hope, because the same promises that are true for us are true for them too.
Then, we find peace, because regardless of the pain, God’s plan is as good for us as it is for them.
May this Christmas bring us the comfort and assurance of knowing that Emmanuel is God with Us…not just with me…which means He is also in our loved ones who belong to Him.