Joy in the Unexpected

by Hilary Horn

By Hilary Horn —

Luke 1:39-45 “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

As a mother, the narrative of Mary during the Christmas season seems to come more alive. Imagine you are Mary. You just got the news that you are the lucky one to carry the Son of God and have the privilege to raise him. Plus, with all the cultural implications behind not being married, looking like an adulterer, etc this is no small task! So what would you do after hearing this?

I think I would do exactly what Mary did.

Run quickly to my closest kin who the angel mentioned as part of the story anyways and talk about what just happened even though she agreed with such faith. I don’t think I could contain that incident. Just imagine the thoughts going through her head… “I JUST SAW A FREAKING ANGEL! THE MESSIAH IS COMING! And I get to be his mother?!” Like most women, I would just need to process that out loud with trusted friend.

So after Mary greeted Elizabeth, she was rewarded with such assurance from her step of obedience and faith. The baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit that led her to shout with a joyful message. I am positive this message encouraged Mary with her faithfulness and reassured her that the Lord is true to His promises. I am sure she was probably expecting a much different greeting and reaction!

Yet, Elizabeth spoke a prophetic word to her that Mary can hold onto even when things will get tough for her in the future. She didn’t tell her she was nuts, believe the worst in her, but gave her a gift of encouragement from the Lord. 

How often do we need someone to shout a joyful assurance to us? When the going gets tough we often can find ourselves isolated, believing we need to figure it out on our own. But God puts people like Elizabeth in our lives to spur us on.

Like Mary, we try not to doubt, but rejoice and be assured that God keeps his promises to what he speaks to us. And often, we need to not hide those promises or bury them because we lack faith or assurance that they will come forth. But to speak them out to our community so they can encourage us in them. Not only this, but to encourage others in their promises with a joyful prophetic word. Trust and joy are two vital aspects of walking with God and often we need community to help us confirm those promises. To give us joyful assurances. 

This season I am hoping to bring the joy, peace and love of Jesus to my community. When people have dreams, to not be a doubter but a cheerleader. When people are down, to help lift them up.  Maybe it’s through encouragement, speaking truth and reassurance in their life. Let us be people like Elizabeth who speak truth and hope over people’s lives when they are in hard times, good times or stale times. May the message of Jesus be heard all around us in word and deed this Christmas.

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