December 19 I Sunday
“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’” —Luke 1:28
When Mary was greeted by an angel, one of the first things that the angel said to her was, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God” (Luke 1:30). We may think that it is natural for Mary to be afraid of an angelic presence before her. Yet, a more likely reason why Luke recorded Mary’s fear was because the message that the angel brought was something that was going to be completely unreasonable from every human perspective.
In Luke 1, we find the story of two pregnancies. One being Mary’s, where the angel told her, “You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you are to call Him Jesus” (Luke 1:31). The other being Elizabeth, who was a cousin of Mary. Elizabeth was married to a man named Zechariah who was a priest. The couple were getting on in years, but one day an angel appeared to Zechariah saying, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John” (Luke 1:13).
When God speaks to us, He rarely talks about the things that are humanly possible—we do not need God for that. When God speaks to us, we find Him saying things that are beyond what is naturally available to us. Mary’s problem was that she was too young and not yet married, while Elizabeth’s dilemma was that she was too old and barren. In both cases, God brings them a message that is, humanly speaking, totally unrealistic and outside of the realm of possibility for them.
In the Bible, we find the phrase, “Do not be afraid” about 366 times—that is one time for every day of the year, including a leap year! In other words, God can give us a fright every day of our life! We may think that it is a bad thing for us to be afraid, but it is actually a good thing. Why? Because anything of which we are not afraid, we will take on with our own resources, saying, “I can do this myself. I am not afraid of it!” Hence, the book of Proverbs tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10). Fear of God is not in itself wisdom. Rather, the fear of God can be a launch pad for wisdom, because when we recognize the situation that naturally makes us afraid, we then have to begin to look for resources that are beyond what is natural and beyond what is human. May our searching lead us closer to God, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.
Prayer: Lord God Almighty, thank You for revealing Yourself to me and speaking to me. I trust in Your ability to bring things that are beyond human explanation to pass. Amen!