A Mother's Joy
December 01, 2019 | John Nix
Dr. J.I. Packer said, “Christianity isn’t a Joy ride, but a Joy Road.” Mary had every reason to feel anxious about Gabriel’s announcement. Her pregnancy placed her on a path of family shame and community scorn, and it certainly put her life in danger. When we understand what was at stake for Mary, her surrender to God’s will and complete trust show us that there is joy in surrender. Mary must have found great comfort in seeing Elizabeth pregnant and hearing the incredible prophecy about Jesus. There is joy in sharing with others. Mary sings from her heart, declaring her praise and thankfulness to God for His provision and the amazing privilege of bearing the Christ. There is joy in singing. The joy road is a road of surrender, sharing, and singing.
- Reflect on a time when you felt stuck between obeying God and doing the “right” thing in the eyes of your family and friends. How did you respond? What was the result?
- Mary’s surrender to God radically changed any plans she may have had for her own life. Think about how your life would change if God called you to make a radical choice to serve Him (like becoming a missionary in a far-off country or starting full-time ministry).
- Read through some of the ot references expressing hope in the coming Messiah, such as Isa 9:2–7; Jer 33:14–26. How do these passages help you understand what Mary was expecting?
- What is the significance of a virgin conceiving a child? What does it say about the identity of Jesus’ Father, as well as His own identity?
- How can Mary’s response to difficult and unexpected news serve as an example in your life?
- Has God ever asked you to do something that scared you? How did you respond? If He asks you to act in extreme faith, how can you overcome your fear?
- Think of a time you experienced growth in your spiritual life. Were your circumstances comfortable? Were they challenging? How did you respond?
- Who has God placed in your life to reinforce and confirm His plan and call for you?
- In what ways do you express praise and thankfulness to God? Do you have a favorite hymn or song that expresses your devotion?
- In the Magnificat Mary painted many pictures of God—as conqueror, judge, provider, and helper. Which of these images resonates most with you right now? Why?
C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven” (Letters to Malcolm, 1964, 299). What is joy? Is it a feeling, an action, or something else? Joy may prove difficult to define. It seems that sometimes we may confuse joy and happiness. Joy is not something that we must find or create on our own. Joy is a feeling of the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, and found in Jesus. Find joy in the Lord, not in yourself, your circumstances, or your possessions. During this Advent season, may you be filled with joy in Jesus.