Last week at Thursday bible study, Lauren spoke to us about the virgin, Mary; the woman we imagine her to be, and the life and legacy she left imprinted in the WORD. As I sat there listening, God began to unfold in me new insight regarding prayers I have been praying on and off over the last few years. You see, I have been praying for years for God to give our family favor on our long adoption journey and journey to conceive; a journey that He called us to and a journey that has bore no visible fruit.
My prayers have been as such “Lord, please open the door of favor and fulfill what you have spoken.” That and about 2000 additional words on the topic. But then on Thursday I heard, and read...
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30
Favor. Perhaps all these years I have had it wrong. Perhaps my limited, wordly understanding of favor, wasn’t the same as God's. Thus began a study of the word favor as it is found in scripture. I’m still in the midst of study but I wanted to make sure I wrote to you while Mary was relatively fresh in your mind. Please feel free to study it on your own, to gain a more full understanding as well as personal insight. Here is where I am...
From what I understood, and based on the requests I was making to God, favor meant ease from the struggle, laughter instead of tears, provisions where it was lacking, comfort in the discomfort, and a time of rest from battle. However, if Mary found favor with God, and her life was as I read, something just wasn’t lining up.
Mary, upon receiving the word spoken to her from the angel Gabriel, opened a pandoras box. In that box was struggle, strife, heartache, disunity, uncertainty, rejection, ridicule ... you name it. Being an unwed, pregnant teenager who believed to be pregnant after a miraculous encounter with an angel, she started her journey in thick mud. We haven’t even addressed her watching that very son grow up to defy all things normal, and natural, then be brutally murdered before her eyes. Yet, Mary was considered by God to be highly favored.
Twice in Mary’s short intro in the book of Luke chapters 1 and 2 favor is used in describing Mary. But it isn’t about who SHE is but rather WHOSE she is. His eyes roamed the earth looking for a woman with a heart set apart for Him and there His favor fell. The favor that He gave was Himself. Don’t get me wrong, God DOES provide ‘favor’ in tangible ways like providing provisions, comfort and ease but the idea of favor isn’t necessarily about what the HAND of God is doing as much as it is about the PRESENCE of God Himself.
The word favor in Luke 1:30 is the Greek word transliterated charis, most often meaning grace but in this context favor. “Favor of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues." This kind of favor bestowed upon or found in Mary (also seen in v. 28) was the gift of His presence. She was favored and by that favor she was ushered into the presence of the most holy God and gifted with His power and sealed to do His work.
So, what did I learn from this new insight into favor ... I sit here and ask myself that very question. Because at times I struggle with my perspective on the lower story and see no tangible evidence of fulfillment that does not negate my favor. Favor is my gift from Him. When I answered the call to be His daughter and chose to walk the roads He marked out for me, I chose Him and in that choosing I received grace, charis, the favor of His presence; favor that comes from His imprints upon me that allow me to go wherever He calls and do whatever He asks. With that, the certain knowledge that He will never leave me, nor forsake me. That is favor. Mary was highly favored as she was lavished in the presence and power of God. He poured out all over her and gifted her with a part of Himself. He was her portion and He is mine, and that makes me favored.
You too are highly favored. Remember Mary. Remember the road marked out for her. Remember favor is not a companion to comfort. Favor is His lavish love poured out upon you in the gift of His presence. A hard life, circumstances that seem to bear no fruit, pain and heartache DO NOT equate to a lack of favor. Favor is a given when God steps on the scene, comfort and ease is not. Love and encouragement to you…
Contributed by: Sara Guilfoyle
JAM Steering Team, Mentor Mom's Coordinator
and Women's Small Group Leader