“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’
And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her." Luke 1:26–38
What I find most surprising—other than an angel telling the virgin Mary that she is pregnant with God’s Son—is that Mary asks only how it will be. And what a fair question. Y'all ever taken Human A&P?
What we don't see here is Mary pondering things so many of us would have: Is my reputation ruined? Will Joseph leave me? I don’t even get to use a family name?
Mary’s focus isn’t on what other people will think or say behind her back. She doesn’t center on this massive inconvenience to her plans to marry Joseph. Instead, she is confident in what the Lord has for her.
Her cousin Elizabeth later described this mother of Jesus: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)
Even when God’s plan for her life was wild and seemingly out of order—ya know, maybe consummate the marriage before getting pregnant—Mary believed in what God had for her. Romano Guardini said, “But she was capable of something which on earth is more than understanding, something possible only through that same divine power which, when the hour has come, grants understanding: faith. She believed, and at a time when in the fullest sense of the word probably no one believed.”
The virgin who brought our Savior into this world in a stable and stood by His side as He was beaten on Calvary was laser-focused on one thing: Jesus. And how did she do this? With faith.
With faith that did not obsess over the opinions of others. With faith that did not draft plan after plan for her own life and then fret when God had something different in mind. With faith that wasn’t consumed with how this situation looked, how fun her Instagram feed seemed, how many labels lived in her closet, how this text sounded, or how successful a new job title made her look on LinkedIn. With faith that looked to the Deliverer more than the diagnosis and the Provider more than the problem.
Mary’s faith was centered on simply glorifying God. I'm not sure we all (I) can say the same.
I put my faith in my friendships, my own plans for my life, my schedule for the day, or the dessert I plan to bring to a party. And then when those friendships disappointment me, my own plans don't come to fruition, or I turn a caramel sauce into charcoal licorice, I am reminded why we are called to put our faith in Someone else in the first place.
The great 20th century prophet Kenny Rogers once sang, "Mary did you know?" That's the thing—she didn't fully know. She could not comprehend all that God had in store for her and for her son. But even when Gabriel's message may have felt frightening, disappointing, or life-changing, Mary believed that God's plans were better. Mary trusted the Creator with her calendar and the Father with her future.
"Blessed was she who believed," and blessed can be we who believe. We've barely even scratched the surface here, yet Advent has already shown us just how faithful God is. He fulfills miracles and prophecies. He uses sinful and broken people for His divine purposes. He makes a way out of no way. He gives us His only Son. Again and again, we see that "He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)
This Advent and always, we are called to put our faith not in our jobs, our homes, our relationships, or the holiday dessert we may or may not burn to a crisp, but in the God who was endlessly faithful to Mary and is so very faithful to us.