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When We Are Misunderstood

    SCRIPTURE: Luke 1 : 26-55.

    When we think of living a life for God despite pressures from every side we find a perfect example in the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I have been reading a book by Catherine De Hueck Doherty called "I Live On An Island" and she talks about this.

    For everyone who knew Mary she was simply the wife of Joseph the carpenter and the mother of a little boy. She was an average housewife who kept house, prepared meals and sewed clothes for her family. She washed the family laundry at the same pool where all the other town people went. She chatted with the other women in her village, no doubt about ordinary, everyday family happenings, just like all women.

    Her very ordinariness made her extra-ordinary. Back as a teenager somewhere from nowhere, an angel spoke to her with a most awesome yet humanly terrifying message. She was chosen to be the woman who would carry and become the mother of the long awaited Messiah! She was engaged to Joseph, but to become a single mother in those days was quite shameful. Those of us who became pregnant before their marriage, or have children or grandchildren who are single mothers will understand a little of the shock and difficulties this causes, even today. But Mary accepted her role to fulfil God's will, even though she must have known that others would misunderstand. (cf. v 28 to 38.)

    But that was the start of a lifetime of being misunderstood. Joseph, her finace, was totally bewildered.An angel had to reassure him! Mary gave birth to Jesus out of town, away from home and all family support. How lonely! Then she had to go and live in a foreign country for a couple of years.After all the promises that she was to have the Messiah, she was forced to resume a very humdrum existence. Nothing happened. No-one understood. This baby boy had to be fed, changed, rocked and nursed like any other little baby. No-one understood WHO HE WAS!! Jesus grew up as all little boys do, and helped his earthly father Joseph in his carpentry shop. He learned from this and became a carpenter too.

    Mary silently accepted this but she must have wondered what it was all about by this stage. What endurance Mary displayed! How would she ever have held true to her belief that this child was indeed the Messiah, without unbelievable peace, faith and trust in a big God who would one day show His truth to the world? This lasted a whole thirty years! Her patience must have been so tested.

    Suddenly her son left her. He started preaching all over the country and far away from home. She must have missed him, just as we miss our children when they move a long way away for their work. Many people were totally aghast at what her son was teaching and she would have had to face ugly rumours continually, like " Christ is not God"..."This man is only a prophet."

    Those of us who love and follow Jesus, who suffer, who have anxieties and years of worries and heavy years where we have been misunderstood, can learn so much from Mary. It is so hard to endure our own problems with the same courage that Mary had. To keep on believing and not doubt that God is in control in our lives too, even if no-one else understands us, is very difficult.

    It is interesting that even now, two thousand years later, much of the world still does not recognise Mary's son Jesus as the Messiah..........the only Son of God, the Sinless One in whom we find salvation and redemption. Those of us who believe, like Mary, are still misunderstood.

    When Mary told her cousin Elizabeth that she was carrying the Messiah of the world, Elizabeth responded immediately with this beautiful encouragement to Mary. "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished."

    (Luke 1 : 45.) There is the key to the whole of Mary's life......she believed God and all He had said, and she did not doubt. Instead, Mary broke out with her own magnificat. (Luke 1 : 46 to 55.) (Read or sing this.)

    All Christians from whichever tradition we come from, can learn an incredible amount from looking at the example of devotion to the will of God, even though so badly misunderstood, that we see in the life of Mary.

    PRAYER: ' We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul...not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength that God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us'.(Colossians 1 : 11-12 - The Message.)

    � 2004 Christine M. Jones
    Christine Jones is married to David. She has two adult children and precious grandchildren. She has worked for many years as a school teacher/librarian, and written children's material for several years in her 'spare time'. She loves nature, music and the theatre.

    John Mark Ministries
    djandcj@optusnet.com.au