Posted by Craig Borlase on 22 December 2015

God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel. Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted— the pain of a sword-thrust through you—But the rejection will force honesty,as God reveals who they really are. [Luke 2:29-35]

So, Mary realises that she's unmarried and pregnant, and that her public image could do with a little bit of touching up. What does she do? Nothing other than carry on trusting in God.

Having lost what social currency she may have had I wonder whether she ever feared she might have to sacrifice her relationship with Joseph as well. However keen she was to do what God wanted, it must have been painful to break the news of her pregnancy to Joseph, watching him deal with all that disappointment and regret. After all, he could have walked. Plenty of good men would have done the same in his position.

God dealt with that by speaking to Joseph direct. Later God also confirmed the promises he had given Mary about Jesus through the shepherds (considered by polite society to be thieves) and the wise men (even worse, they were foreigners).

But God's encouragements to the couple were hardly brimming with good news — check out what happened when they bumped into Simeon and Anna at the temple in the passage above. Although it must have been wonderful to hear God’s words confirmed again, all that stuff about the sword that would pierce her heart must have stuck with Mary throughout her life as Jesus grew up and began his ministry. Not an easy thing to live with.

The pain of God's calling carried on: they were forced to live as a refugees (Matthew 2 v13-23), only to return to realise how many friends and relatives had lost their baby boys during Herod’s slaughter, all because of their son.

Being ‘used’ by God can be difficult and painful. Then again, do you really want a nice, quiet life, free from Godly adventure?

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