Dear friends, I’m so thrilled to be welcoming my friend Debbie Wilson, author of the newly released book ‘Little Women, Big God’ to the picket fence today! I hope that you will take this opportunity to pause in the midst of a busy season to be blessed by her words of encouragement and gentle reminders of truth.
Can Scandal Be a Sign of God’s Favor? Remembering Mary
“She lives a charmed life,” a friend said regarding her daughter-in-law. “Everything just works out for her.”
If a charmed life is easy, then what do you imagine a highly-favored-of-God life to be?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was highly favored of God. Yet her life was difficult. God chose Mary to be the mother of His only Son. Gabriel the angel called Mary highly favored of God two times in their brief encounter. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).
If an angel called you highly favored, wouldn’t you expect some free “get out of pain” passes? If God picked you to carry His child, wouldn’t you anticipate some special treatment? Surely, He’d prepare your fiancé.
I’m not sure what Mary imagined would happen when she returned from a three-month visit with her cousin to tell Joseph she was pregnant with God’s Son. But he didn’t buy it. Since their engagement could only be ended by divorce or death, he looked for a way to quietly divorce her.
Mary didn’t live a charmed life. Her fiancé believed she was immoral and unfaithful and she had no way to prove her innocence. She saw the hurt in Joseph and couldn’t reassure him of her faithfulness. Since God set the bar on sexual purity, why did He let others believe Mary was sexually loose? Why did He put this couple through this tension?
God did step in and stop Joseph from divorcing Mary. But the religious leaders continued to call Jesus illegitimate even in His adult years. God allowed people—religious leaders—to believe Joseph and Mary were sexually immoral, when they had shown extraordinary restraint. Joseph kept her a virgin until after Jesus’ birth.
I wonder how many Jewish customers and friends Joseph lost in his carpentry business because of this scandal. Wouldn’t you think God would clear the reputation of this highly favored couple?
Conflict may actually be a sign of God’s favor.
Isaiah 55:8 reminds us God’s ways are not our ways. They are better. God did clear Mary’s reputation with those with whom it mattered. He also used this misunderstanding to benefit Mary, Joseph—and us. Mary and Joseph could empathize with those who doubted their story. They didn’t waste energy being offended that others didn’t believe them. After all, it took an angel’s visit for Joseph to understand. Joseph modeled how to handle betrayal. Mary and Joseph’s faith grew. With each new challenge they remembered God’s faithfulness through previous tests.
We benefit. When people believe lies about us, we know we’re in good company. Some of God’s most highly favored saints were misunderstood. Having God’s favor didn’t mean ease for Mary. Instead of having a midwife and a clean bed, Mary delivered God’s Son in a stable. Instead of being escorted by the king’s army, soldiers hunted her boy to murder him. And when Jesus grew up, His scourging and crucifixion pierced her own heart. Definitely not a charmed life! God’s ways are not our ways; they are infinitely better. Despite her trials, Mary learned that no problem is too big for God. She dwells in heaven today with the Father and the Son. If you asked her, she’d say the favor of God surpasses a life of ease.
About the Author:
Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God.
Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break.
Thank you so much for meeting us at the fence today!