“Elizabeth gave a glad cry…”
How precious these verses are. I can almost picture the scene in my mind. Mary hurried to see Elizabeth. Elizabeth did not hesitate to celebrate Mary’s wonderful news. I can imagine the two of them embracing as they cry one minute and laugh another. This young woman and this wise older woman celebrating God and celebrating their womanhood. Elizabeth felt honored that Mary had greeted her and she said that Mary was indeed blessed.
Elizabeth has modeled for us how to be a great friend. She truly rejoiced with Mary. She had a choice in how she would respond to Mary’s news. What if she had said, “hey just a minute here. I’m the one who should be carrying the Son of God. After all, I am older and wiser, and I have been patient all these years when I couldn’t get pregnant. You are just a child. How dare you come into my house and expect me to be happy for you. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME.”
How many times have we thought or said, “it should have been me. Why, God why? It should have been me.” I’ll be honest, I know I have. “I want to be fit and thin like my friends.” (oops, did I say that out loud)? And I am challenged, even today, by Elizabeth’s response to Mary. What a good friend Elizabeth was to her. However, Elizabeth was more that just a good friend. In Luke 1:25 Elizabeth proclaimed, “How kind the Lord is.” You see, the very important point here is Elizabeth knew who she was in relationship with God. She thanked and praised Him for her blessings. She was in the right ‘frame of heart’ to celebrate with Mary.
I know in my own life, that the more I complain and compare the more angry and bitter I allow myself to become. My spirit says, “it should have been me.” But when I know who I am in relationship with God and take the time to thank and praise for my blessings—to find the joy in every situation—then my spirit says, “It isn’t even about me. It’s about you, God.”
“…he (Joseph) did what the angel of the Lord commanded.”
When Joseph awoke, he put his faith into action. “He did what the angel of the Lord commanded.” He made Mary his wife, but did not have sexual relations with her until after the birth of Jesus. Action—the most powerful response to our affirmation of faith. Joseph surrendered and then acted upon that surrendered faith. Again, I love the humanness of Joseph’s honest struggle. It was after he was confused and afraid, that God was able to really work. Joseph also gave God the time to reveal Himself. Once again, he treated Mary with tremendous decency and respect. He made “an honest woman out of her”—not for her sake (she knew where she stood with God) but for the sake of public scrutiny. He also refrained from sexual relations with her (which according to the law was his right) until after Jesus was born.
What tremendous life lessons for us in these two simple verses:
- Put our faith into action
- Do things decently and in order
- Don’t be in a hurry to impose your own wants, rights and needs. Put others first.
What a challenge! Applying these truths to our everyday, we realize that as we defer to others needs around us, we develop greater confidence in knowing that God is taking care of us.
“As he considered this, he fell asleep….” (New Living Translation)
As Joseph was considering what to do, he fell asleep. He “slept on it”. Literally! He gave himself time to make the right decision. While he was “sleeping on it,” the angel filled him in on the facts of the story that he was missing. He, like Mary, was seeing things from his own perspective, not God’s. The angel calmed his fears and said that God was in control.
There is so much to be gained by giving the proper time to ourselves in making an important decision. Very often we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle at the beginning of a situation. The challenge is to “act” with an informed, level head. The temptation is to “re-act” out of panic and emotion to partial bits of information. Time is our friend. It allows God to reveal Himself and His will. It allows God to fill us in on the missing information, so that we can hear His words or truth. By hearing His words, then we act–we obey.