Mary, the mother of Jesus is one of the most recognized and influential people in the Bible. Her story is miraculous, and she is a woman of courage, strength, tenacity, and immense faith. While she is best known and celebrated for giving birth to Jesus the Messiah, there are other powerful lessons that we can learn from her life and story. Here are five dynamic and valuable lessons that we can learn from Mary:
1. Despite Mary’s Fears, She Trusted God’s Word and Guidance for Her Life
When Mary received the angel Gabriel’s message that she would conceive Jesus through the Holy Spirit, she was afraid. She knew her circumstances and the potential fallout of being a virgin and unwed mother. Luke 1:29 says “Mary was greatly troubled at his words,” referring to Gabriel. Despite her fears, uncertainties, and questions, Mary decided to trust God’s divine plan for her life. She surrendered to God’s will. In Luke 1:38, Mary proclaims “I am the Lord’s servant, and tells Gabriel, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary’s desire to serve God and surrender was greater than her fears.
Similar to Mary, we too have real fears in our lives when fulfilling God’s purposes. We often have more questions than answers. But we can learn and be inspired by Mary’s story. She leaned on God’s word and moved forward, trusting God’s leading and direction. Mary believed that God would keep His promises.
2. In the Midst of Mary’s Trials, She Continued to Praise God
In the midst of Mary’s life-changing news that she would give birth to the Messiah, she continued to praise God. Her doubts and fears didn’t waver, but her songs of praise rang louder. Mary understood the power of her praise, and that it would sustain her through her upcoming trials.
Luke 1:46-55 is entitled “Mary’s Song of Praise.” Mary praises God for His faithfulness in her life, but also for all future generations. We must continue to keep an active praise on our lips to encourage and strengthen our spirits. God’s goodness and faithfulness is consistent and steadfast. In the midst of our various trials, continue to find something to praise God for.
3. Mary’s Suffering Drew Her Closer to God
Being the mother of Jesus was Mary’s greatest honor and ultimate source of suffering. She witnessed Jesus endure intense ridicule, opposition, and crucifixion. She was the last person with Jesus until his death on the cross. Mary carried a weighty burden and responsibility. As any mother would, Mary wanted only what was best for her son, but also endured great pain and suffering watching her son suffer.
In our suffering, God wants us to fully depend and lean on God. Within our own strength, our personal suffering can attempt to consume us, but we must fully rely on the Holy Spirit to guide, carry, and sustain us through times of adversity. God will comfort us in our suffering and is a consistent presence in our lives. Deuteronomy 31:8 states, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
When adversity comes, God has given us an open invitation to come and find comfort and peace in God.
Photo credit: Bethany Pyle
4. Mary Trusted God in the Unknown
Although Mary’s path was unknown, she surrendered and trusted God moving forward. It is easy to trust God when things are going well and your next step is clear. The greater test for us all is to trust God when our next steps are unknown and we are unsure how to move forward. Mary decided to trust God during her uncertainties and fears. She didn’t lean on her own understanding or limited perspective.
God gave Mary an extraordinary blessing in birthing Jesus the Messiah. She was unsure of exactly how God was going to use her, but she trusted in who God was more. Like Mary, God is calling us to practice trusting Him daily with our lives and His purposes for us. With limited information and control, we must continue to trust God’s path and provision.
5. Mary Surrendered to God’s Will
Mary surrendered to God’s plans not only for her life, but the life of her child. She allowed Jesus to minister in both familiar and uncomfortable settings. Mary surrendered her child over to God and his ultimate will. If Mary tried to control God’s plans for Jesus, he wouldn’t have fulfilled his purpose on earth and died for the sins of humanity. Surrender is a daily act of worship to God and a full acknowledgement that we are not in control, but an opportunity for us to be led by God every day.
To fully surrender our lives daily to God takes greater trust, humility, and a reverence for His sovereignty. It is not easy to do because we battle against our human frailty each day. However, God will give us the courage needed to surrender every aspect of our lives into God’s capable hands. We should shift our attention from our circumstances to a renewed assurance that God’s will is best. Similar to both Mary and Jesus, surrendering to God’s will is not easy, but necessary for our spiritual growth and maturity.
As we close out the year, I invite you to reflect on Mary’s journey and the lessons from her life. God blessed her tremendously with the birth of Jesus through extraordinary circumstances. Despite her fears and anxieties, she decided to trust God’s word, praise God through suffering, trust God in the unknown, and surrender to God’s will. His plans for our lives will take us down windy and uncertain roads. Often times, we will not know the way to go or will see our fears increase. Let us be encouraged by Mary’s story and reminded that God will lead, guide, and direct us.
In times of uncertainty, let us continue to praise God with the intensity of Mary. Let us trust God in the unknown. Surrender to His will and be assured that God’s plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. May our desire to serve and accomplish God’s purposes be greater than our fears.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ChrisGorgio
Kirstyn Mayden is a Christian blogger who writes devotionals that empower and equip women in their everyday lives. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. For the last 15 years, Kirstyn has served in a number of ministry capacities with children, youth, and women. She has a passion to serve with women empowering them to grow and live out their God-given purpose. Currently, she serves alongside her husband in ministry at Mt. Zion UMC Church in Upperco, MD. She is the loving Mom to her daughter. In addition, she is the founder of Worthy Girls, Worthy Lives, an empowerment program for adolescent girls in Baltimore. Connect with Kirstyn’s blog here.
Kirstyn Mayden is a Christian blogger who writes devotionals that empower and equip believers in their everyday lives. She is a wife, mom, and loves Jesus. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. For the last 20 years, Kirstyn has served in several ministry capacities. She has a passion to serve with women empowering them to grow and live out their God-given purpose. Currently, she serves alongside her husband in ministry at Mt. Zion UMC Church in Upperco, MD. In addition, she is the founder of Worthy Girls, Worthy Lives, an empowerment program for adolescent girls in Baltimore. Connect with Kirstyn’s blog here.