FAVOR, GOD’S PRESENCE AND SUFFERING
And he came to Mary and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you. Luke 1:28
Mary was favored by God, promised His presence, but then, it was characterized by suffering. Leaving her home eight months pregnant. Giving birth in a dirty barn. Fleeing for Egypt with a husband and toddler. Seeing her son taunted, beaten, and crucified. How was she comforted? By sound theology and the presence of God.
As she reviewed the stories of her ancestors, she remembered others who were favored, promised the presence of God for their journey, but then suffered greatly.
Joseph, shown early through dreams that he was favored by God, was then betrayed and led into slavery and imprisonment. Many years later, he would see redemption.
David, shown early at twelve years of age that he was favored by God, was anointed king. Over the next decade or two, he hid in caves and ran for his life from a demented king.
Jesus, obviously favored by His Father (a voice from heaven declared it so), was immediately led into the desert for testing. His life ultimately ended up on a cross, by God’s design.
There are so many more examples. So have I forgotten the Bible stories I learned as a kid? Why, when I’m suffering, do I wonder if I have found dis-favor with God? Why do I hide my pain from other believers? Why do I fear God has withdrawn from me rather than tucked Himself in closely? Bad theology!
Perhaps you are afflicted today. You may be ill; too sick, too young, the losses staggering. You may have been betrayed; feeling punished by God, deserted, aching. You may have set out on a path you feel God carved out for you ~ only to experience one set of crushing circumstances after another. Now, you second guess yourself; shame and guilt are your constant companions.
Suffering does not prove dis-favor and disobedience. In the life of a believer, more than not, it proves God’s favor and a path of obedience. I am not advocating that we wear our pain as a badge. I am promoting rest in God’s purposes!
The One who favors us is the One who calls us to share in the sufferings of Christ. God’s glory, what life is all about, is most clearly seen when His favored ones trust Him through their tears and wait for ultimate redemption. Let’s renounce the lies of our accuser and run with confidence toward the heart of the Father who sustained His Son through His darkest hours and sustained His mother, Mary, through the tumultuous events surround the birth of Jesus.
Your children dream of being spiritual giants but we forget their paths of suffering. We are suffering. We are favored. We are resting in Your provision of grace. We declare that we are loved today, not despised. Amen.