“Has God forsaken me? Is God’s favor not for me?” Maybe she said it.
She had heard about the favor of God. She had even prayed for God's favor in her life. But she wondered, “Is God’s favor for everybody except me?”
She was a teenager living in a backwoods, poverty-stricken town. Her people were oppressed, under the rule of a foreign power. In her culture, women were supposed to be seen and not heard. Her future was bleak.
And to make things even more depressing, she was pregnant without a husband. Her fiancé almost left her because he didn’t believe in her anymore. Her friends stared and whispered when she walked by. Others laughed. Some wanted her punished for what they thought was her obvious promiscuity.
Once she started to show, her shame was so strong that she had to leave her hometown to stay with her aunt. When it was time for the baby to be born, she delivered her little boy in a stable and placed him in a feeding trough. Then, an evil ruler threatened to kill her son. So, she had to flee her country to stay safe.
It makes sense that she might wonder, “Has God forsaken me? Is God’s favor not for me?”
You know who this is, right? It's Mary, of course, the mother of Jesus. Her circumstances sure didn't seem very favorable.
When her Son grew up, she had to release Him to be homeless, misunderstood, slandered, betrayed, abandoned, denied, falsely accused, unjustly tried, and condemned to execution as a hardened criminal.
Mary experienced all these difficult unfavorable circumstances, yet, as we are going to see, she was highly favored by God. She lived in the favor zone.
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!' But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God'" (Luke 1:26-30, ESV).
Mary wonders, “Since I am a virgin, how is this going to happen?” The angel said, “You are going to have a baby and it will be a miracle birth. You’ll call Him Jesus. He’s the Son of God, the King of kings. He will bless the world.”
Clearly, Mary received this favor from God. She was on the favor fork and in the favor zone.
What was the evidence of the favor of God on Mary’s life? It sure wasn’t an absence of trouble.
The life of Mary teaches us that we can be living in the favor zone and on the favor fork even when we're poor and misunderstood and judged and in danger.
I’ve been to some churches where the overall message goes like this: “Live your life right. Be godly. Have faith. And then good things will happen to you.” Well, that message would sound really lame to Mary.
She’s living a good life. She’s servant-hearted, wholly available, and God-centered. She’s doing things well. But she’s poor, pregnant, unmarried, slandered, displaced, and on-the-run with her newborn baby to save His life.
Surely that means that she doesn’t have the favor of God on her life, right? Wrong! The whole time, she has the favor of God on her life. The whole time, God is working through her life to give birth to Someone who will bless the world.
The presence of trouble doesn’t mean the absence of favor. And the flip side is true, too. The absence of trouble doesn’t mean the presence of favor.
Defining the favor of God
Leaders and the favor of God
A prayer from the Psalms to entreat the favor of God