“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
There is so much encouragement packed into each of the narratives leading up to the grand narrative of Christ’s birth. The angels, wise men, shepherds, Joseph, and Mary all point to something miraculous.
But the scene that stops me in my tracks is the one between Mary and the angel, Gabriel. Gabriel’s role is to announce that Mary’s life is about to turn upside down. She will give birth to the Savior of the world. The One promised to deliver all people from oppression and suffering.
Despite Gabriel’s assurances of God’s favor, Mary is left with an uncertain future. Viewing the situation through the world’s lenses, things don’t look too bright for Mary. Worst case scenario, she faces death for alleged infidelity. Best case scenario, she faces the loss of her reputation as well as her engagement to Joseph. Overall, Mary is confronted with many unknowns and what-ifs.
Can you relate?
Of all the women in the world, why did God choose Mary? She was as much a sinner as anyone else. What was it that set her apart?
I have a suspicion that Mary’s eternal perspective had something to do with it. 2 Corinthians 4:18 instructs us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Upon close examination of the Christmas story, it’s clear that Mary’s eyes were fixed on the unseen.
Mary viewed herself as God’s servant. She understood her purpose. In Luke 1:38, Mary states, “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary knew she was created as an instrument for God’s use. Her concern was not what God could do for her. Rather, what she could do for God. She positioned her life to receive God’s assignments.
Mary believed God’s promises. A few verses later, in Luke 1:45, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth says this about her, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Mary didn’t just believe in God, she believed God. She took His Word, His promises, and His nature at face value.
Mary trusted God’s plan. Even after she had time to process the angel’s words, Mary acknowledged her circumstances as a gift. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49). Mary understood the magnitude of what God entrusted to her. Giving birth to the Savior of the world was an outrageous calling. Yet Mary was confident in God’s plan for her life because her gaze was fixed on Him.
And it’s no different for us.
The impossible circumstances that God places in our lives are no different from God placing a piece of Himself, His own Son, in Mary’s womb. As His children, God entrusts a piece of Himself, His promise of everlasting life, to each of us. But oftentimes we’re unable to recognize it.
Because we wear the world’s lenses, our circumstances look like financial devastation, illness, a wayward child, a difficult co-worker, a failed marriage, a struggling ministry, loss. But when we choose to wear eternal lenses, God grants us the ability to see our suffering as the very thing He’s placed in our lives to grow His Kingdom.
I want to be like Mary. I want to be faithful with the impossible situations that God entrusts to me. What about you?