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When We Face Trials, God Provides for Us as He Provided for Mary

| Pastor
14 Dec
Mary and baby Jesus

There are so many traditions at Christmas time, from picking out a fresh tree, hanging lights and decorations, baking cookies and drinking hot chocolate, to Christmas movie marathons and going to grandma's house for dinner. All of these make our homes special at Christmas time.

But nothing compares to the Christmas Story, the Gospel account of when God became one of us, wrapped Himself in human skin and appeared to us as a baby.

“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.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-38).

He came not as warrior or a conqueror, but as a baby, to show us that He didn’t come to scare us but to save us.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Studio-Annika

Mary and baby Jesus

Through the Eyes of Mary

People often don't appreciate how Mary, the teenager hand-selected by God to be the mother of Jesus, was a hero we can all learn from. If fact, Mary's courage in the face of her God-given mission shows us how much God is with us in every circumstance. If Mary made it through the challenge set before her, so can you!

The people of Israel had long awaited the Messiah prophesied about in the Old Testament books. He would be the One who would deliver Israel from bondage.

Without warning, an angel appeared to a young girl, and announced that she had been chosen for this very purpose; of all the women who have ever lived, she was selected to bring the Messiah into the world.

That glorious announcement must have caused Mary to be overwhelmed with joy and excitement! What astounding, wonderful news! What could possibly be better?

However, there was a slight issue. She was already betrothed to Joseph, a wonderful, godly man, and was busy planning her future wedding. But now she's pregnant. With that, Mary was launched into a fiery trial which would test her courage and faith in God.

The Trial of Not Understanding

“How can these things be, since I don’t know a man?”

Have you ever been puzzled by your circumstances? Or perplexed by a problem and wondered why? Have you ever reached out to God for an answer and still things made no sense?

We all go through trials of not understanding. However, our understanding is not a prerequisite to making it through the trial – only trusting God is.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Trial of Accusations and Assumptions

Jewish betrothals were a year-long preparation for the wedding ceremony. During that time, the couple were deemed “husband and wife” in the eyes of the community. So when Mary was found to be pregnant and Joseph knew he was not the father, Mary was launched into one of the most painful trials many face – divorce.

“Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19).

Joseph didn’t know at that time that Mary was innocent of betrayal. For a time, she faced the prospect of being left to raise the child on her own. The voice inside her head shouted How are you going to make it through this?

That voice would only get stronger as gossip around the village spread that she was pregnant, and not yet married.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Monkey Business Images

Mary and baby Jesus

The Trial of Trusting God for Vindication

By herself, Mary couldn’t stop the accusations, change Joseph’s mind, or reclaim her soiled reputation.  

She was pregnant, and the truth of it was just too much for people to understand. Her only option was to trust God to vindicate her.

And oh, what a trial that is!

You want to fix it, give them a piece of your mind, get even and strike back! But the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks so clearly, deep inside:

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

With each moment of this trial that passes, and each day that goes by without your vindication, you wonder How am I going to make it through this?

Mary understands – and God provides.

The Trial of Doubt

She saw the angel and heard what he said, and she watched God mend her relationship with Joseph through a dream. But when Jesus was to be born, there was no room for them in the inn, and the Messiah was born in the stink of a stable.

Doubts began to build – would the Savior of the world really be born in a stable? How could this possibly be God’s plan? The animals, the noise, the straw for a birthing bed, a ceiling blackened by years of soot, the floor caked with dung.

Did we miss God? Did I really see an angel? Was I really chosen to birth the Messiah?

Have you encountered circumstances that strengthen your doubts and cause you to wonder – how will I ever make it through this?

Mary did. She’s been through it all, and so can you.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

Mary and baby Jesus

People and Providence

There are two things apparent in the Christmas story which demonstrate how this heroic woman made it through – people and providence.

Having the right people around you when you're going through a trial is invaluable! (And if we're honest, some trials you’ll never exit till you get rid of the wrong people.)

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18).

Adam had everything: the right environment, the animals, the garden, relationship with God Himself. And yet God said “It’s not good for the man to be alone.”

Translation: we were never intended to live life by ourselves. We need help at times to get the right perspective, deal with our emotions, carry the burden and keep trusting God. 

God Will Send a Joseph

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Joseph was a burden bearer for Mary. He was a righteous, God-obeying man sent to help her and protect her from the accusations of others. 

These kinds of people are rare and special. A Joseph is someone who will bear your burden as if it’s their own. They will put their own life and comfort, their own reputation and security, even their own safety on the line, in order to help you through.

You can’t make someone be a Joseph for you. This is a divine relationship, where two hearts are knit together in the Holy Spirit, according to His will.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/kieferpix

Mary and baby Jesus

God Will Send Shepherds

Trials are notorious for depleting our faith and fueling hopelessness – for bringing us to a place where we are tempted to say, why pray, why trust, why try anymore?

Surely Mary was there at various times in her journey. As she heard of Joseph's decision to divorce her, as she was giving birth in a filthy stable, her faith was severely tried, and her hope tanked.

And as she looked down on her new baby – he looked just like any, ordinary child. There was no hint of Shekinah glory or divine majesty on that tiny face.  

Did she really just give birth to the Savior? Had she really heard from an angel? She needed a faith-lift – so God sent her shepherds.

“So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15).

Nervously they tiptoed in. Excuse us, ma'am, an angel appeared to us and told us to come here, and we would see a baby that will become the Savior of the world.

Instantaneously, her bout with doubt was ended by the encouraging, confirming words of strangers, shepherds sent by God to bolster Mary and Joseph's faith in their time of need.

We also should never shy away from the encouragement God lays on our hearts to share with others. We just may be the “shepherds” with the faith-lift that they need to make it through!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

God Will Send Wise Men

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

Like Mary, God will send people to help guide, provide, and help you make it through trials. They may share something that opens our hearts up to God, so we can keep the switch of faith turned on. They may provide connections or information that we need to know, or bless us by meeting an urgent need. All of this takes some of the pressure of the trial off our shoulders, so we can press forward.

But regardless of the circumstances we face, we can make it through because, like Mary, God will provide what we need, because He is already all we need!

“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber or sleep!” (Psalm 121:2-3).

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Drazen Zigic

Frank Santora headshotFrank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit Photo by Michele Roman.

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