Favor of God

I was inspired by our pastor's Christmas message. Pastor Casey Treat offered a new perspective on God's favor. First let me tell you about an experience my husband and I had at another church a few years back. My husband developed walking pneumonia and stayed home from church because he couldn't stop coughing and because he didn't want to share this sickness with others. I was met by the pastor in the foyer when I arrived at church. Right away he asked where my husband was. I told him. The next words he spoke really surprised me.  "Well he must not be in the will of God."

This statement haunted our lives for some time. As we look back at the situation, we realized that my husband was working long hours at work and long hours trying to keep up with his responsibilities at church. Condemnation tried to work its way into our lives but we chose to believe the Word of God instead.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

This year's Christmas message really healed this old wound. Our pastor pointed out how God Favored Mary. Remember this familiar text from Luke?

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:26-33 (NKJV)

Mary was favored by God. God sent an angle to tell her this but think about Mary's life after this point. She was rejected, for a time, by her fiancé. She had to leave home during her pregnancy and stay with her cousin. After Joseph married her and she was full term, she rode a donkey from Nazareth across open, rugged country to Bethlehem. Can you imagine riding a donkey in her condition? I heard Pastor Casey describe this donkey ride and I wondered why her water didn't break? Then this teenager girl gave birth in a stable. No midwife, no mother, just smelly animals to hear her cries of pain. Do you think she felt "Favored of God" during this time? Did her circumstances change God's favor for her? No, not at all! Mary was still "Favored of God".  If Mary was Favored, why didn't God send angles to carry her to Bethlehem in comfort? Why wasn't a room reserved for her at an Inn?

I learned today that we may have difficulties in life and at the same time have God's Favor. Mary's circumstances didn't mean she had lost favor with God. God's favor is with us even when we live through difficult circumstances. We need to trust our Lord Jesus through the good and the bad.