April 11, 2014
“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed and destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against. And a sword will pierce through your own soul also – that the secret thoughts and purposes of many hearts may be brought out and disclosed.”
Luke 2: 34, 35
“Why Did The Women Stay?”
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
C. S. Lewis
Is there a pain I am bearing which has broken my heart?
How is my Father’s healing filling my life during this time of heart break?
“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”
“Behold the servant of the Lord. Let it be it unto me according to Your word.”
Luke 1: 38
Just imagine for a moment you were a teenager, unmarried, and living at home with your family.
All of a sudden, without warning, an angel appeared in front of you with this message, “You have been chosen. You are special. You are pregnant.” Would you be surprised? Shocked? Terrified? Afraid? If you are anything like Mary, the Bible gives us a glimpse into what the response from any of us might have been for Luke tells us Mary was, “Greatly troubled and disturbed and confused.”
Here in the book of Luke we find a young, uneducated peasant girl, chosen by heaven to be the mother of Jesus Christ. While it appears that Mary’s appointment for this task seemed to be one she didn’t choose for herself, it certainly is one she accepted. What’s more, as our text for today from Luke 2: 34, 35 indicates, not only was Mary informed of the task ahead, she was also given a glimpse into the sorrow and pain which would be inflicted upon her own life as the mother of Jesus.
This for me becomes the crossroad moment in Mary’s life. It is the moment when Mary was told a sword would pierce her soul and yet she chose to live her life, rather than in the gutter of despair and pain, but in the fragrance of healing and hope.
You see, Mary was given a most unusual task. She was asked to raise the Son of God, knowing all along that this child was not really hers. She was asked to pour her love into a precious baby that she nursed and loved and kissed, while at the same time, knowing ahead of time, that great pain and heartbreak would tear her heart in shreds.
I’ve asked myself more than once, “Could I have done what Mary did?” How would I like to live my life knowing that tragedy and pain was coming? How would I have liked to know that my heart would endure the piercing of a sword?
This thought became more real after the accident that nearly killed Jim and myself. As I have thought about on this catastrophic event, I am so grateful our heavenly Father kept the pain of this event from us. We didn’t know, when we left California, that less than six hours later, we would be fighting for our lives, left with lifelong injuries that inflict pain to this very day. How thankful I am I didn’t know what was coming. I’m certain there are events in your own life which you are thankful you did not know about beforehand. If you and I had to know about loss and heartache ahead of time, I wonder how we would live our lives. I’m not sure what emotions would fill my days.
Yet we find that somewhere in the life of this young teenager, Mary, the joy of being chosen by heaven outweighed the negativity that could have permeated her days. Instead of choosing to live her life blanketed by pain she lived in an aroma of grace that served to encourage the hearts of all she touched.
The legacy of Mary’s life for me isn’t just the fact she was Jesus’ mother. Her legacy is also contained in the reality that she knew a sword would pierce her heart, yet she chose to live a life of hope.
During these times of pain, when sorrow and heartache fill our own world and the piercing sword leaves us bitter and despairing, we need to return to the vision of a young girl who willingly carried the wounds of an injured heart her entire life. For as I’ve found with mothers, the pain one carries for their child doesn’t die when the child does. This pain doesn’t die until the mother takes her last breath. Mary chose, with hope filling her life, to live an abundant life. A life that gave joy to those she met. A life that encouraged her Son. A life that said, “Thank you for letting me be blessed!”
This is the lesson of Mary’s life which touches the painful places in my own. Like Mary, you and I can choose to take the sword that causes sorrow and turn it into a healing salve that heals every life we touch. In the words of one of my favorite poets Christina Rossetti, “Although today He prunes my twigs with pain, yet doth His blood nourish and warm my roots; tomorrow I shall put forth buds again, and clothe myself with fruit.” This is the message of Mary’s life. And this is why she stayed by Jesus and trusted His words.
“When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
C. S. Lewis
“Loving God, calling Your friends in new and unexpected ways, choosing Mary from the powerless and unnoticed in the world, yet greatly loved and cherished in Your sight, that she should be the mother of our Saviour, so fill us with Your grace that we too may accept the promptings of Your Spirit, and welcome Your angel with glad and open arms, ready to be pierced with pain and filled with, rejoicing in the cost of Your salvation, in and through the same Jesus our Messiah.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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