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Trust - An Advent Reading

Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said: 

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,  for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors."

Whenever we begin to enter the Christmas season, I am struck by contrasts. Jesus being announced to both kings and shepherds, a procession of a donkey and young couple carrying the King of Kings, a stable instead of a palace and so many others. Jesus likes to show up in the unexpected and in ways we wouldn't expect. Some who had been watching and waiting for the coming Messiah missed Him altogether because they were looking for Him to come in power and glory. Others like Anna, the temple prophetess in Luke 2:36-38, recognized the tiny and unassuming baby for who He was. 

When I read this song from Mary, I can't help but notice the contrast of her song with what she experienced in her actual earthly life. Her song was the truth of who Jesus was, what He would do and who she was - truly blessed. Of all women, she was chosen as the mother of God. She was the one who would get up in the night, change the diapers, clean up the messes, protect, hold, nurture and worry about this child God. She was also the one who would carry the pain of her son being 'different.' A Son who made waves and in the process also made enemies. A Son who would be misunderstood and rejected. A Son who would be loved by the 'wrong' people and hated by the 'right' people. A Son who would be brutally crucified. I wonder if she remembered her song on that dismal Saturday between the death and resurrection? Honestly, when I look at her life, it does not look like an enjoyable one. 

If simply looking at her life experience without the context of life as a whole, her life does not look like God was mindful of her. The pain she carried must have felt unbearable at times. She wouldn't have looked 'blessed' as people misunderstood her Son and misunderstood her in the process. I'm sure she was the subject of much talk. When it looked like evil was winning, God's mercy extending from generations to generations must have looked like an impossibility. The proud seemed to be winning and the humble seemed to be losing. Running from evil carrying God in her arms certainly wouldn't have felt like 'rulers being brought down.' The promises were being filled in a subversive way that many could not detect, yet she trusted.

Maybe this is why God chose her to carry both the pain and joy of bearing the Son of God. I can't help but wonder if God chose her because He knew she would be able to see the bigger picture. Perhaps this song that welled up in her when she said 'yes' to God proved to be an anchor when things looked really dark or when she didn't understand. Maybe in the midst of the pain there was a joy as she kept her sense of wonder trusting God even when He wasn't matching her expectations. Instead of having to understand what was happening, she trusted the God who knows the beginning and the end. Maybe she had joy in the midst of suffering because she was humble enough to not have to see and chose to trust anyway. 

Like Mary, often our lives look differently than we had hoped. Sometimes it can look like what was promised is far out of reach. Things we had hoped for or trusted God for seem to be slipping from our fingers. Biblical promises sometimes don't seem to match our life experiences. We begin to doubt He loves us, He is working and moving on our behalf and the ones we love, or that He is actually who He says He is. We can be so busy looking at our current circumstances, we forget that much of our lives are lived in the spaces between a promise and a promise fulfilled. Like many in Jesus' day, we actually miss the promise fulfilled because we expected Him to come in a different way or we misunderstand the promise. We begin to live like our little moment in time is all there is and forget there is a grander story God is writing that goes through all of time.

Evil will eventually be defeated and God's purposes will not be thwarted even if it looks like they are for a time. This life is not all there is and we often stand suspended in a space where we get to choose if we will trust God, who is making all things new, even when we cannot see and don't understand or if we will give up. There are moments in our lives, both big and small, when we get to decide if God is bigger than our unbelief, fears and disappointments. We get to choose trust. Mary was human and I'm sure she felt all of these things at times, but somehow she moved back to trust in God. When her eyes were dimming, she went back to the Promiser and remembered. Can we? 

Is there a song you once sang that you have stopped singing because of pain or disillusionment? What if you pull it out, dust it off and offer that song once again? What if you offer God your questions, pain, disillusionment, unbelief, fears and failures? These are the things offerings are made of. These are the vulnerabilities our gentle God loves to hold. These are the questions when given to and processed with God, are what true trust is built on. He is strong enough for all of us and all of who we are.

Rejoicing soul and wounded heart, humble Mary gave her all. 

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