He came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:28–30, ESV).
Mary was just a regular human being. She wasn’t full of grace; she needed grace. She wasn’t sinless; she was a sinner, just as all of us are. The reason she said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”(Luke 1:47) was because she, too, needed a Savior. Even in this amazing passage from Luke 1 where we first meet her in Scripture, we see her perplexed and “greatly troubled.” We see her freaked-out afraid in the presence of the angel Gabriel. We see her expressing real doubts—“How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)—like any regular person would ask.
But here’s all that matters. We also see her finding “favor with God.”
And finding favor with God makes everything else okay.
Make the favor of God your focus, and everything else will fall into place. Please God with your life, and you’ve found what’s key. The Bible doesn’t say Mary found favor with her parents or with her fiancé or with her neighbors. Those are all fine things to do. But when you’ve found favor with God, you’ve found everything.
Now it doesn’t mean everything in your life is going to be perfect as a result. Is that what it meant for Mary?
Mary found favor with God, but it didn’t mean her husband wasn’t pretty misunderstanding of everything that was happening. Mary found favor with God, but it didn’t mean her Son wasn’t going to be born in a barn. Mary found favor with God, but it didn’t mean she wouldn’t experience some lonely times when Jesus left home, going off to dedicate His life in service to His Father. Mary found favor with God, but it didn’t mean this Son she loved wouldn’t be hated and rejected and beaten and crucified before her very eyes.
Finding favor with God doesn’t mean everything becomes wonderful and rosy and beautiful and bright. But here’s what it does mean. It means God Almighty has laid His hand upon your life, and He is going to use you for His eternal purposes.
It means having ongoing hope—hope that you can overcome all the obstacles you’re facing.
I promise you, Mary is having a great day today. She hasn’t spent one minute bemoaning what a rough plan God laid down in front of her when He sent His messenger to Nazareth, telling her she would be the mother of her Savior. God is fully capable of rewarding those He has favored, those He has placed His hand upon to use.
And if you, like Mary, are faithful in this hope, you won’t need to wait until eternity before being able to look back without resentment toward the hard things He took you through. As one who’s found favor with God, you can thank Him and praise Him right now for all He’s allowed in your life, knowing He’s working something special in you.
God’s favor isn’t easy, but God’s favor is good.
It means you’ve put all your hope in the only right place.
This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission.
James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at WalkintheWord.org.