Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! Luke 1: 45
Isn’t it the greatest blessing when we have someone in our lives who understands what we are going through? Perhaps it is someone who has been through the same situation, who has known our joy, our feelings of accomplishment, or even our challenges, heartache, and grief. Or maybe it’s someone who is going through the same life experiences that we are and shares our concerns and fears. It gives us much comfort to know we have someone who will listen, understand what we are feeling, and give us encouragement.
Feeling as overwhelmed as Mary did when the angel told her that she would be giving birth to a child who was God’s Son, we can understand why she might have chosen to immediately make the almost 100 mile journey from Nazareth to her cousin Elizabeth’s home in Judea. We remember that when Mary questioned the angel on how this could be, the angel replied that “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1: 36 – 37) Mary needed someone who could understand what she was feeling.
A 9 or 10 day journey, we can only speculate that Mary must have joined up with other travelers to make the journey. With the few details we are given in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we are left to wonder if Joseph may have arranged the trip or accompanied her there himself. Or perhaps he visited her during her 3 month stay with Elizabeth, and he too was encouraged by the visit.
And as to why she made the trip, we can’t help but think that Mary needed this older woman’s loving counsel and strength. She also may have been concerned for her cousin’s welfare, or she wanted to see for herself if the angel’s words were indeed true. But even more, she must have realized that Elizabeth was the only person who could understand what she was going through – that God Himself had reached down to bless both of them and to use them for His glory.
We can only imagine the thoughts Mary must have had along the way, and how she must have rejoiced with Elizabeth when she saw she truly was with child. But Elizabeth had no way of knowing that Mary was also pregnant, and how in awe of God Mary must have been when she heard Elizabeth’s words upon their embrace: “Blessed are you among women, and blessd is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”
Perhaps this visit was just what Mary needed. In her hometown, she would have been misunderstood, shamed, and rejected, but here she was accepted and protected, nurtured and loved. Three times Elizabeth used the word blessing to Mary. Perhaps Mary’s uncertainties and fears began to subside as she heard Elizabeth’s loving words to her. Perhaps as she listened to her beloved cousin refer to her child as “My Lord”, it was the first time that she truly understood the magnitude of the gift God was giving her – not just for herself, but for all of mankind. Perhaps Elizabeth’s encouragement and love gave her even more resolve and strength to go forward in faith to follow God’s plan for her life.
Amazingly, God will do the same for us. When circumstances in our lives seem impossible, overwhelming, and scary, He will assure us of His presence and give us the guidance we need. And He will place loving people in our lives to encourage us with their strength and comfort to help us along the way. He only asks that we believe and trust in Him, and when we do, He will bless our lives with His goodness.
Our most gracious and loving God, we thank you for the beauty of the Christmas story and for the faith of those you chose to carry out your eternal plan. We thank you for the grace to believe – to know that you will always be with us and will give us the strength and assurance we need. We thank you for this Christmas season and for the hope you bring. Amen