When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

What was true of Mary is also true for you—why that's good news.

Sometimes finding favor with God makes life much harder. When Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God, many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.

When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

(Photo: by Jolanta Dyr. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0-pl, via Wikimedia Commons)

What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an of God and not an act of passion? Finding favor with God meant she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins.

But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much. It comes from this amazing young woman.

Mary Found Favor with God 

Mary knew that her pregnancy, while bringing joy to the world, could have the opposite effect on her future:

  • When Joseph, her fiancé, discovered her pregnancy, he could have had her stoned under the Old Testament Law.
  • Such a woman often got ostracized from her own community and family.
  • At best, she faced living as a single parent for life.

In light of all these very real possibilities, she could have told God:

  • Thanks, but no thanks, God. I didn’t ask for this “favor.” It’s more than I can deal with.
  • My family and friends will renounce me. What’s worse, I will lose Joseph.
  • Lord, don’t I have the right to choose about my life?

Remarkably, she said none of these. Her response was one of total obedience and submission to the will of God:

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said. —Luke 1:38

Mary, a remarkable young woman

(Photo: Andreas F. Borchert GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)

What an extraordinary response! In these few words we understand:

  • Mary surrendered to what was God’s will for her.
  • She considered favor with God a blessing instead of a burden.
  • She placed her complete trust in the Father who was able to shelter, feed, comfort and provide if all others would abandon her.

Finding Favor with God

Gabriel’s announcement to Mary proclaimed her a “favored one” (Luke 1:28). The original Greek term comes from a verb that means, “filled with grace.”

Significantly, this same verb appears in only one other place in the New Testament:

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. —Ephesians 1:5–6

The words “freely bestowed” come from the same verb as “favored one.” In both cases, God gave grace through His choice and election—not through the righteousness of the recipient. Also in both cases, what was the means of God’s favor?

  • Because of Jesus, Mary was highly favored.
  • Because of Jesus, you are highly favored.

God’s Favor as Your Motivation

In the same way Mary responded to God’s favor with trust—in spite of the fact that obedience would make life tough—so we can do the same.

  • When family members ostracize us because of our convictions.
  • When the culture all around us lives for immediate pleasure and pride.
  • When our own hearts long for self-preservation rather than for self-sacrifice.

God’s (unmerited) favor— which He freely bestowed on us—inspires us to obey God from a heart of gratitude.

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said. —Luke 1:38

Finding favor with God isn't easy

(Photo: by Jolanta Dyr. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0-pl, via Wikimedia Commons)

As you look at nativity scenes again this Christmas, give a special glance at Mary. She took God at His word to obey His will above her own, regardless of the consequences.

Yes, finding favor with God makes life tough.

But far better.

Tell me what you think: Is favor with God worth the fallout you experience? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said. —Luke 1:38” — such simple words, such powerful words. Great post here today, Wayne. {and yes, we are on the same wavelength today!}

    • Thanks, Michelle. Every December brings another great reminder of that amazing young couple. I love that they both responded independently of each other—and yet, both obedient. What great models!

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  • enri

    I allway ask god for
    help but the last time I ask for him to help me with my feeling I had against some people tht did me wrong, some how he though it would be funny to take all my bad feelings but not just for the people I ask at that time but he actually went further and took all my anger in the past tht I thought it was hard as rock in my heart at the end I didn’t wanted tht I still wanted to hold some grudges. but I thank god he has his reasons. now I have a grudge free life 🙂

    • That’s pretty amazing, Enri. A “grudge free” life is admirable. Sometimes God’s grace in forgiveness washes over us like a tidal wave, and other times it comes in a slow drip. Thanks for your comments.

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  • Kirsi

    Hi everyone, I have lately experienced amazing favor by God, and right now am in the sacrifice state. You know after the promise has been given on the mountain, you come to the valley and you start waiting for the promise to take form, and it starts looking very different than what you imagined it to be, or what the end result will be. I notice that after this period of suffering and dying to myself, I am afraid to let God come near me right now, for It feels too painful. It feels as if I am too fragile to bear His power of love at this point. I know it will be worth it, but right now it is very hard to carry His beautiful promise. I know He is working His glory in me and making me more pure for His use. It makes me happy to think of that.

    • There’s a lot of wisdom in what you’re saying, Kirsi. Clinging to God’s promise in the valley is the truest test of faith and the greatest opportunity to glorify Him. When it’s too painful to let God come near, sometimes He comes near anyway to show us it’s worth it. Thanks for your comments.

      • Kirsi

        Thank you for your insightful posts and you response. It brought comfort to me.

  • Jeanelle Sims

    Thanks Wayne, I need this this morning
    Beautiful

    • You’re welcome, Jeanelle! Thank you and God bless you today.

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