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There are many women in the lineage of Jesus Christ who's stories of faith and perseverance encourage both men and women alike. They include Ruth, Rahab and Bathsheba, just to name a few. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ I want to look at the testimonies of two women who truly inspire us towards joy and anticipation this season. That would be Mary, Jesus' mother and her cousin Elizabeth. Each with her own unique story contributing equally to the arrival of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. - Luke 1:5-7 NIV
Elizabeth was a woman of God who blamelessly followed His commands. However, she was childless and very old. She was the least likely person you would expect God to use to birth John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. However, Elizabeth's old age and inability to conceive would not get in the way of God’s plan. How encouraging is that? Even our weakness and struggles cannot get in the way of God's purpose. Not even when it appears God is taking too long or He is too late. Elizabeth's story reminds us that God is an on time God. He has a plan ready to work out at the proper time for the proper reason.
God wanted Elizabeth's baby, John the Baptist, to be born around the same time as Jesus. Everything needed to happen right on time. For Elizabeth this may have seemed too late. On the other hand, for Mary it may have seemed too soon.
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” - Luke 1:28-33 NIV
Mary was only a teenager about to get married when an angel of the Lord appeared to her to tell her she would conceive and birth Jesus Christ. Mary was caught off guard and none of this made sense. She was young, she was a virgin and she was about to get married. This was not the best time to get pregnant. It was way too soon. But the angel of the Lord explained to Mary that this was all part of God's perfect plan and Mary chose to trust God over her personal plans.
I will assume both Elizabeth and Mary wanted children. Elizabeth sooner, Mary later. But God granted them what they needed right on time, knowing the circumstances surrounding their pregnancies would not only bring them what they wanted, even if at an undesired time, but more importantly joy and salvation to the entire world.
The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus and these two women's stories remind us anything from God is both worth waiting for, and also worth being excited about, even when it doesn't come as expected. We are inspired to trust both God and Him perfect timing.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You giving me the best gift of all: salvation through your Son Jesus Christ. May this precious gift always be a reminder to me that you are an on time God and that You are worth waiting for and trusting. May my heart be filled with anticipation and joy as I rest in the truth that You know what is best for me and also when it is best for me. Lord, thank You for loving me and giving me good gifts. I love You. In Jesus Christ Name I pray, Amen.
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Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.