by Christi Estes
Even after all these years, it was still hard for her to believe. She was really only a child when it began. A mere thirteen years old. And not a child of means. Her family was poor and what many might call common.
Despite these worldly drawbacks, it was she who had been given the honor. And it was she who had willingly accepted. Knowing the ridicule she would surely suffer, even the threat of death, she received her task with a thankful heart. She was obedient to His call.
His birth was as common as her lineage. Born in a lowly manger surrounded by the smell of hay and animal feces, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ arrival appeared anything but divine.
But soon it was clear to her that this was a very special child. Magi travelled hundreds of miles to bring Him gifts. Shepherds followed a star to His birth place. And King Herod so feared Him that he ordered the slaying of all infants in the town of Bethlehem.
Still, the first few years of His life seemed relatively ordinary. But as time progressed, the extraordinariness of her circumstances began to reveal itself: untaught depths of knowledge, water turned into wine, miraculous healings, walking on water and thousands of followers.
Yes, there were difficult times too. The mind-racing anxiety when her child was “lost”, only to be found teaching His elders in a synagogue. The continuous peril that He placed himself in as he travelled the map with His ministry left her constantly worried for His safety.
And now, as she knelt weeping on the ground, she wrung her hands until they turned an angry red. The same shade of red she saw running down her Son’s legs as He hung on a cross right before her very eyes. She looked around, taking in the crowd, seeing the hate-filled eyes and hearing the angry shouts.
“Kill Him!” they screamed. “Liar!” yelled others. Their pride and fury like nothing she had every witnessed before.
She wondered why it had played out this way. How was she supposed to bear watching her son suffer in this heart-wrenching manner? She was told she had born a King, not a criminal who would end up hanging on a cross. What could she have done to produce a different outcome than this? Was it possible that she had misunderstood all these years?
In the end, was this that for which she had been chosen?
It’s hard to imagine what Mary had to endure when she was chosen as the mother of Jesus. This was both an honor and a curse. As a mother myself, I cannot fathom the grief and pain she endured as she watched her Son die on the cross. As the wife of a person diagnosed with cancer, I am learning that earthly suffering is very difficult to stomach and rationalize. It is hard for me to believe that a loving God would allow such an evil disease to exist. Watching her Son suffer, I’m sure Mary asked the same question in her mind that we all ask in times of trouble- “Why?”
Although I can’t even pretend to know all the answers to why God allows people to suffer on this earth, I do believe that He chooses each of us, in our own circumstances, to answer His call if we are willing. And that with this answering, He blesses us tremendously. I believe that the evil in this world causes our suffering, but that God can and will redeem this suffering if we open our eyes to His goodness. This redemption can come in many forms. Through Jesus, it took on the ultimate form- resurrection and eternal life for His believers. Christ’s earthly suffering had a divine purpose that even Mary could never imagine. God’s gift to us of His only Son was the ultimate, never-ending gift for our souls.
Today, as I look at our circumstances, and the circumstances of so many surrounding me, I try my best to look past the earthly suffering and to look for the divine purposes. It is not easy to find any redemption in a forty two year old and a four year old both stricken with brain cancer, nor in a sixty year old with inoperable tumors growing in her pancreas and around her liver. These are horrible situations that cause heartbreak and outrage in my mind. However, the fact that God placed the mother and daughter of both of these victims in my life a few short years ago shows me His redeeming love and grace. God chose us to be a beacon of light for each other in our times of difficulty. I’m so glad He gave me these friends to offer hope, comfort, and encouragement.
Just as Mary was chosen by God to bear His son, I believe each of us are also chosen by God to play a part in His ministry and reveal His glory. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, we have a choice. We can choose to trust and hope in Him, or we can choose bitterness and anger. Today, Rob and I choose trust and hope in Him and we know that He is blessing us even in this difficult journey.
I am so thankful that God chose us, His people, to redeem through His Son, Jesus Christ. I am thankful for Mary, who said “Yes,” when she was chosen as the mother of God’s only Son, even through the difficulty of her circumstances. And I am thankful for a Savior who was willing to give it all to redeem us for our sins and offer us an eternal home with Him.
Emmanuel- God with us. The greatest , most perfect gift in history. May you find Hope in Christ through all of your circumstances in the coming year and may 2014 bring you peace and joy!
You are chosen.
Christi Estes is giving thanks even as she journeys with her husband Rob's latest diagnosis of cancer. She is a regular blogger at AbingdonWomen.com and can also be found sharing her reflections on God’s blessings for and through children who face life challenges at www.journeyofunexpectedgifts.blogspot.com.