Surprised by His Favor
"But the angel said to Mary, Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God."
I read recently the story about a farmer who had fallen on hard times financially. His crops were failing, his wife needed an operation, the mortgage on the farm was due, and the bank was about to repossess his tractor. This small-time farmer didn't have the money for all these needs. He decided the only thing left for him to do was to rob a bank. He mustered the courage to do so by walking around the block several times. He planned every detail of what he would say and do. He had a bag to hold the money and a gun to frighten the teller. When the farmer memorized his speech he walked into the bank for the grand heist but got all confused because he was scared to death. Rather than giving the teller the money bag, he shoved the gun toward her. Then he raised the money bag, pointed it at the cashier and said, "Don't stick with me, this is a mess up."
Fear causes us to act stupidly and creates a myriad of problems in our lives. Unfortunately, most people live in fear throughout the year but during the Christmas season those fears are intensified with haunting questions: “Will we have enough money? Am I a disappointment to my family, friends, even God? Will I be the next one in the office to lose my job? Will this year’s family reunion be a train-wreck like last year? Will next year be any better than this year?”
Questions! Life is filled with questions that begin as a small wave on a distant shore but soon become a tsunami pounding at the sand beneath my feet. Mary had questions and apparently she had fears as well.
In response to Mary’s fears, the Christmas narrative of Luke reveals there is another option…you can experience the favor of God. I love how The Message paraphrases the dialogue between Mary and the angel: “She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, "Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you…” (Luke 1:30)
When you experience the favor of God, all the reasons you have to fear seem so small. Mary faced a staggering impossibility; “How could a virgin give birth to Israel’s Messiah and the Savior of the world?” God’s favor on any person or situation makes all the difference as the angelic messenger announced, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
This Christmas season when you are tempted to be overwhelmed with fear, let God surprise you instead…Be surprised with His favor.