“And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
The angel told Mary that she had found favor with God, and then set her on a road that was incredibly difficult. We’d sure like to think that being the recipient of God’s favor is a good thing from start to finish, but given the kinds of things Mary experienced, that’s not such an easy conclusion as we’d like. So, what does it mean to find God’s favor?
Well, the original word translated as “favor” here is the same word from which we get the word grace. This sheds some light for us. Mary was the recipient of God’s grace. What is grace? That one’s easier. Grace is unmerited favor. It is getting something we don’t deserve and that we didn’t do anything to earn.
Okay, well, what exactly was the grace here for Mary? Certainly it was the fact that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah. That was kind of a big deal. But again, that came with such hardship. Matthew and Luke don’t spell those hardships out for us because they were writing the stories of Jesus, not Mary, but it’s not hard to imagine them. We’ve talked about several of those hardships over the past couple of weeks.
How can receiving God’s grace bring such hardship with it? The simple answer is that receiving God’s grace doesn’t mean everything is going our way in the short term. It means we get to take part in His goodness and His good plans for His people, including us.
That’s the favor Mary received here. For reasons we will not know until we get to ask Him face to face, God chose Mary to participate in His good plans for His world in a special way. She didn’t deserve it, but He chose her because she’s who He wanted to choose. She is blessed and honored because she said yes.
God wants for you to take part in His plans as well. They aren’t the same plans as He had for Mary, but they are His plans all the same. That’s grace. That’s favor. The question is whether or not you’ll say yes. Will you receive the grace He wants to give you? That grace begins with you taking part in His plans by receiving the eternal life He has made available to you in the child Mary bore—Jesus the Christ. Would you do that and be called blessed as she was? The journey won’t be easy, but it will be good.