Disappointment has a sister and her name is disillusionment. Mary certainly doesn’t come across as disappointed with the unexpected direction her life abruptly took (“My soul glorifies the Lord!”) but as a girl turned mother turned wife, I wonder if she was a wee bit disillusioned. Maybe there’s a better word for my life isn’t going how I thought it would. Interrupted? Pushed off course?
God loved Mary, clearly. Chose her to play one of the most significant roles in His-Story. And Mary’s response? Let it be done to me as you have said. Faith and obedience join hands. So for all of her obedience and faith shouldn’t God… I don’t know… made it easy? Couldn’t he have let her, a virgin, labor with her mom by her side? Or a midwife? Or in her home town? In a bed at least?
Nope. Mary dear, you oh very pregnant one, are to travel miles and miles.
That’s not all. Simeon, the prophet who has been waiting for the birth of Christ, takes the baby in his arms and after bubbling out joyous effusions, looks at Mary and says, And a sword shall pierce your heart, too. Yes, any mother who has lost a child knows the pain of the tip of that blade.
That’s not all. After the Magi visit little Jesus, she has to hightail it to Africa with her husband and little guy because—get this—this maniacal king is trying to kill her baby.
If God loved Mary, the very picture of faith and obedience, why did she have to go through all of that hardship?
[Insert easy answer here. Except I don’t have it.]
Sometimes I wonder, in twenty-first century America, if we tend to over quote Jeremiah 29:11 because we want safety, we desire ease; we want plans that prosper and not harm. Not to minimize the merit of that verse for us, but God did speak those words directly to Jeremiah, for a specific reason. And there are a lot of Christians who have not been spared from harm. Do we cling too tightly to this modern-day equation?
God loves me = so I will have a good life.
Depends on how you define good.
Good = Easy? Never promised. Quite the opposite actually.
Good = For His Ultimate Glory? That changes everything. And that means good can also be frightening if we’re honest.
Enough with the pseudo math. Back to Mary. Her path was not easy, but she was all wrapped up in the presence of God, probably more fully than any other time in her life. God the Father was with her in Spirit; God the Son was hidden within her, and then snuggled to her breast. Mary wasn’t after an easy life; Mary was after a life that pleased God. She was swept up in the current of a much bigger plan, a much bigger love; the love of God her father and God her son (huh, ponder that), and her circumstances didn’t alter that a bit.
It’s a bit of a mystery but sometimes the darkest, hardest places allow us to experience God’s presence the most. Sometimes disillusionment comes before illumination. Sometimes he needs to extinguish our expectations in order to light up our path.