“…Blessed are you among women…”
Luke 1:42 (NIV)
One afternoon when my daughter was 14 she started feeling generally unwell, becoming more and more drowsy. Her neck became stiff and she developed a blotchy red rash which didn’t fade when my wife placed a glass against it. We rushed her to hospital and eventually she was diagnosed with meningitis and given antibiotics which she didn’t seem to be responding to. We called our pastor, had her anointed and shortly afterwards she began to respond. I’m glad to say she recovered and we thanked God for his intervention. When we saw the consultant a day or so later he told us that if we hadn’t brought her into hospital that evening she would have been dead by the following morning. It was a very sobering conversation. Being a parent can be painful, and probably there is no more painful moment than the thought of someone you gave life to dying before your eyes.
Reflecting on this personal event made think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was described by Elizabeth, as being blessed among woman because she would give birth to the Messiah. Undoubtedly it was a great privilege and a wonderful blessing for Mary to give birth to and be the parent of the Son of God, but I can’t help but think of the pain she experienced. Simeon made reference to this when he said to Mary at Jesus’ presentation at the Temple “…And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:35) It must have been as painful as being thrust through with a sword to watch her child (for they are still your child how ever old they are) die the horrific death of crucifixion.
Inevitably questions come when we suffer pain, to which there are no glib answers. Yet Mary’s experience shows me a number of things that I have found helpful during painful times. Even though we may be blessed, and she was ‘blessed among women’, it didn’t exempt her from pain. Being blessed doesn’t mean we will have a trouble free life. Mary’s experience tells me that when I experience pain it doesn’t mean that I’m not blessed or that I am necessarily outside of God’s purpose and will. After all, the cross was at the very centre of God’s plan and purpose (Acts 2:23). It also tells me that when I suffer I am not abandoned by God. At Mary’s point of excruciating pain, Jesus ensured she would be looked after and cared for by asking John to become her adopted son (John 19:25-27).
As a Christian we may have to walk a road of trial, trauma and pain, but we will never be left alone. God will always be with us and provide what we need, and in that we are truly blessed.
Father, I do not like or welcome pain, but thank you for the blessing of knowing that you never abandon me even in my darkest days and that you will provide all that I need.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.
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