During the season of Advent, we wait in anticipation for the arrival of Christmas. Weremember with hope, peace, joy, and love that Jesus was born long ago and that he still brings light to the world today. But hope has been a little harder to come by this year. We haven’t had as many things to anticipate, to look forward to, to get excited about. So many events have been canceled, and planning is virtually impossible. The spread of Covid-19 has created fear and anxiety and has dimmed our hope.
We have such abundant hope about Christmas, in part, because we know what happened. We know the familiar story around Jesus’ birth with angels, shepherds, wise men, and a star. The savior of humanity came into the world that night.
But I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus’ mother Mary. Mary didn’t know exactly how everything would play out. Honestly, she didn’t have many details. The angel Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would cause her to conceive a son who would reign over a kingdom that would never end. Gabriel said, “So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 (NIV).
With all of the unknowns, I wonder about Mary’s hopes and dreams. Maybe she simply hoped to survive childbirth. Perhaps her hopes centered around having a healthy baby. I’m sure she hoped to be a good mother. She probably hoped that this crazy situation, becoming the mother of a savior, would work out well in daily life. I bet she wasn’t making plans for how Jesus would eventually become a leader but was more focused on the family she was creating, the baby she would raise with Joseph.
Mary lived with uncertainty and probably a good deal of fear as she waited for the birth of Jesus. Even though Mary did not know the future, she 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.” Luke 1:46-48 (NIV). Before she knew whether her hopes would come to fruition or not, she praised God and expressed her gratitude because God had her in mind. She believed that God cared about her while still living in the unknown.
This year we should take a lesson from Mary in how to have hope in the face of the unknown. Mary tied her hope to the fact that God had her on his mind. Mary found favor with God in an extraordinary way. But could we also believe that we are on God’s mind? It’s hard to make that leap at times. We often feel insignificant and small. We don’t feel worthy.
But Mary didn’t see herself as holy or magnificent either. She said that God was mindful of “the humble state of his servant.” While she acknowledged that generations would call her blessed and we see her as God’s most blessed woman, she probably didn’t fully realize her significance until long after the birth of Jesus. But she based her hope on God’s love and mindfulness.
God is mindful of us as well. The Psalmist said, “The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us.” Psalm 115:12 (NRSV). How would things change if we had confidence that God is mindful of us? Mary faced many uncertainties and so do we. Let us rest assured that God is mindful of us, and we can place our hope in God.