By Dot Bowen
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. Luke 1:29-30 (NIV)
When I feel anxious or fearful, the last thing I want is for someone to “remind me” that fear is not of God! The truth is there are legitimate fears and false fears. To fear a poisonous snake is a legitimate fear, but to fear if I can trust God with my life is a false fear. In Luke 1:26-38, we are told the circumstances surrounding the birth announcement of Jesus. Mary, a young virgin who had plans to marry Joseph, is told she will soon be pregnant, but the father of her child is not Joseph. Gabriel’s announcement caused legitimate fear in Mary, which is why he told her she had nothing to fear. Gabriel’s first words to Mary were, “Greetings you are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
When we become fearful because of tragedy or our circumstances, we need to consider the words of Gabriel. Why? Because Mary is not the only person favored by God. I realize we weren’t chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but we have been chosen to be a child of God. God sent His son so that those who believe in Him can be called His child. Now I call that favor with God!
As God’s children, we can call Him Abba, Father. Isn’t it interesting that the angel God sent to announce Jesus’ birth is the same angel whose primary job is to stand in God’s presence? Imagine what it must be like to continuously stand in the presence of God! No wonder Gabriel proclaimed without hesitation that man has nothing to fear! Obviously, the announcement of Mary’s pregnancy would have created an enormous amount of fear for any young, virgin girl. But Gabriel knew God was sitting on His throne—in total control—and would take full responsibility for the outcome.
I’m sure Gabriel is still standing in the presence of God waiting for the announcement of Christ’ssecond coming to rescue God’s favored children. Until then, we can enter into His presence and cast our anxieties on Him. There is nothing that can happen to us that God cannot handle. And God will take full responsibility of the outcome for whatever He allows in our lives.
When we find ourselves fearful as we face unexpected situations, we can replace the fear with a prayer for strength to handle whatever God has asked of us. Fear may seem legitimate based on the circumstances in your life. Mary faced the possibility of persecution and possible death. Who wouldn’t be afraid? If we only look at our circumstances, we may feel we have a lot to fear. But if we listen and believe the angel who stands continuously in the presence of God, we will surely agree that we are favored by God and we have nothing to fear. Mary didn’t understand what Gabriel wholly understood: his news would bring honor to her. Mary was instrumental in an event that changed the entire course of history. When we are asked to trust God when in seemingly impossible situations, our obedience may the very thing God will use to change our world.
Mary faced the task of telling Joseph and her family she was pregnant. And on top of that, she was forced to leave her home. Mary chose to trust God because of Gabriel’s words. Perhaps you are facing a situation in your life where you do not see any way out without facing hardship. Are you in a situation where you feel you have no control over the outcome? You have the choice to trust God or live in fear of what might happen. Gabriel’s confidence came because he stood in the presence of God, and God said not to fear! Maybe if we could see into heaven and stand before a holy God, we wouldn’t struggle with fear either. Then again, we are given the privilege of bowing before a holy God and giving our fear directly to Him. I believe if we spent more time on our knees in prayer looking toward heaven, we would be quicker to say, “There’s nothing to fear,” even though our feelings tell us we have everything to fear.
The Christmas story is not about Mary or Gabriel. The Christmas story is about our God who gives us hope by sending His messenger to say, “Do not fear; you are favored by God.” Mary chose to trust God rather than her feelings as she surrendered to His plan. We may struggle momentarily with fear, but when we let go of what we fear losing, we gain a peace that outweighs the cost of letting go. The moment we let go, we will realize there is nothing the world can give us that will bring more peace than the peace of surrendering to God’s plans. We can trust Gabriel who stands in the presence of God because it’s obvious to Him—we have nothing to fear!
Further Reading Luke 1:26-45; Isaiah 9:6; Galatians 4; Revelation 1:17-18