I’ve often thought about what a blessing it would have been to be chosen by God to carry His Son, Jesus. When Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, saw Mary and understood that she was carrying the Messiah, she said “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Even Mary knew she was blessed. In Luke 1:48 she said “from this time on all generations will count me blessed.”
Elizabeth was right, we do consider Mary blessed.
With that blessing, though, came tremendous difficulty. As a mother of four, I cannot imagine the pain and anguish Mary suffered through, even though she was blessed. Kids are a blessing, no doubt about it, but any mom can tell you that with that tremendous blessing comes some intense vulnerability as we begin to love more deeply than we ever thought possible. With that blessing comes deep pain as we begin to let go of them.
Can you imagine how Mary must have felt as she helplessly watched her son carry the cross down the streets while people mocked Him, spit on Him, hurled insults at Him and whipped Him? What about how she must have felt as she watched Him die on the cross while Roman soldiers tortured Him, little by little, until He finally took His last breath?
I know deep down in her mom heart, Mary wanted to rescue Jesus, to step in and make it all go away. I cannot help but remember the times my son, Tommy, would fall on the soccer field as a young boy and I would jump up out of my chair, run over, bandage the knee, give it a “mommy kiss” and wipe his tears. I would be at his side before I realized what was happening! What restraint and resolve Mary had to be able to watch and not intervene in the sufferings of Christ, her son.
Where did Mary get that resolve? How did she get so strong?
In Luke 2:19, we read that as the Shepherds gathered around a newborn baby Jesus, Mary “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” In Luke 1:33 we see she marveled at the things that were said about Jesus as Simeon prophesied about Him. Mary knew these were moments she should treasure and ponder in her heart. She also pondered it in her heart when Jesus was twelve years old and He had been sitting in the temple in the midst of teachers, asking them questions and listening to them for three days.
That word “ponder” in the original Greek means to “struggle with”. I wonder if she knew that since He would end up sacrificing His life, she would need the strength that these important and inspired events would give to her in the future?
As a mother, I often find myself pondering important and beautiful moments in my childrens’ lives. For instance, when my 6-year old Tommy (who is now 22) looked up at me and said “Mommy, God did a really good job when He made you. Can I marry you?” Or when a 5-year old Stephanie (now 25) looked at the bright moon on a clear night and said “God must have cleaned heaven today.” Or when a bad dream invaded sweet 6-year old Peyton (now 14) and she ran to my bedside and said “Mommy, can I sleep in your room tonight? I feel closer to Jesus when I’m with you because you remind me of Him.” There was also the time when a 3-year old Kennedy (now 16) said “Mommy, I want to be just like you when I grow up”.
These and many other special moments fill my mom-heart with joy. I can draw on these moments when things get rough in their lives and I find myself unable to make the pain go away with a “mommy kiss”. I have to watch helplessly on the sidelines as they are knocked down in life and instead of jumping up to make them “all better” I watch them get up, dust themselves off and say, “I’m good!” I have to trust as I let them go, one by one, that I’ve done all I can to raise them right. I have to trust that they know I’m there for them, even if I can’t make all the hurts and consequences of wrong choices go away. I have to trust that God has a plan for their lives – even if that plan may include allowing pain with a purpose into their lives.
Mary and Jesus both knew that the pain He went through had a purpose.
It didn’t make it easy, but I can see that God’s grace strengthened them and helped them through those difficult times. Yes, we call Mary blessed—but deep down I know that with that blessing came tremendous difficulties, heart wrenching pain and a resolve to allow it all to happen because she trusted God’s plan for His life.
As I ponder these things in my heart this morning, my prayer is simple…”Lord, please give me grace and strength to trust Your plan for my children’s lives—even if it doesn’t make sense to my mom-heart.”