On this 24th day of Advent, Norman Vincent Peale reminds us that Mary, when visited by an angel and told that she would bear a son named Jesus, accepted her role without question.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.—Luke 1:37
What do angels look like? What did the archangel Gabriel look like when he appeared to Zechariah in the Temple? Was he tall and stately and radiant with light? St. Luke doesn’t tell us, but he does say that Zechariah “was troubled, and fear fell upon him” (Luke 1:12). Certainly the angel knew very well what consternation his presence was causing, because the first thing he said to the frightened old priest was “Fear not” (Luke 1:13).
The same heavenly messenger used the same words some months later when he “was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26–27). “Fear not, Mary,” the angel said, “for thou hast found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). And he went on to give her the staggering news that even though she was a virgin, she would conceive and bear a Son Whose name would be Jesus.
Like Zechariah, Mary voiced a flicker of doubt. How could such a thing be? But the great archangel understood the bewilderment of the young girl, and this time he inflicted no penalties. He simply assured Mary that with God nothing was impossible, and she accepted this. We can almost see her as, with head bowed, she murmured, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
What inner turmoil those meek words of submission must have concealed! If Mary became pregnant in this fashion, what would people think? What would neighbors say? Above all, what would be the reaction of Joseph, her fiancé, who loved and trusted her? All these frightening thoughts must have flashed through the young girl’s mind, but she expressed none of them. She only said, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”
Surely, one message this Bible passage teaches us today is the need for acceptance. Even when we don’t fully understand God’s plan for us, we have to be willing to accept it and follow it. Sometimes that plan may seem to include suffering and hardship. Sometimes it may lead through valleys of disappointment and discouragement. Sometimes it may call for unselfishness and sacrifice. Whatever it may contain, we have to accept it, leaving the outcome—as Mary did—in the loving and omnipotent hands of God, Who never fails us.
We thank You for the life-plan You have ordained for each of us, Lord. Help us to accept it and follow it faithfully, even though we may not always understand.
This story first appeared in the December 1992 edition of Guideposts.