I continue to marvel at Mary’s response to Gabriel’s unbelievable message: “…let it be to me according to your word,” (Luke 1:38). She didn’t know what those words really meant, did she? She couldn’t have known. She couldn’t have foreseen the heartache she would have to go through as the mother of the Messiah, who was destined to suffer and die. Yet the Holy Spirit moved her to speak with great confidence in her calling as the Lord’s servant, chosen for an honor unlike any that had ever been given before. A great honor, to be sure, but one that was accompanied by great suffering.
Can you speak these words from Mary as you experience the unexpected, the disappointments, the losses? Throughout our lives we all experience those proverbial “closed doors” where it seems pretty clear that going in the direction we had planned is not according to God’s plan. This news does not come from a heavenly being, reminding us first to “Fear not,” but rather from physicians or social workers who are simply stating the facts.
“The cancer had spread more than we thought,” says the surgeon.“We had to do a hysterectomy.” But I’m so young! It doesn’t seem possible that I’ll never be able to give birth. I never dreamed this would happen.
“It doesn’t appear that any growth has taken place in the last month,” says the OB. “I’m so sorry.” No! This was the answer to our prayers. Why would God give us this miracle and then take it away? It’s not fair.
“We have just received word that all referrals are on hold indefinitely,” states the email from the agency. “We will notify you when we have more details.” Not another hold up! We’ve been through this before. This could add even more years to our wait.
The shock. The denial. The anger. The fight. The exhaustion. The surrender. Then, finally, the prayer: “Let it be to me according to Your word.”
Using Mary’s statement as a prayer can be both a spiritual and physical struggle for some. At times we may even feel the need to physically grasp hold of something as we speak it so as to brace ourselves for the realization of all our fears. Our sinful nature attaches such hesitancy to this concept of full submission. Why is that? After all these years of the Lord’s providence, generosity, faithfulness, and care, why have we still not learned our lesson?
For me it’s getting a little better. You know why? I’ve been practicing. Every week on Sunday morning I hear the true, inspired, life-giving words that speak of the Lord’s promises to me and I practice this prayer—this time with all boldness and confidence.
“In the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.…” Let it be to me according to Your word!
“I believe in the…resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” Let it be to me according to Your word!
“…given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Let it be to me according to Your word!
“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Let it be to us all according to His Word!