Have you ever wondered what Mary was thinking when she said, “why am I so highly favored?”
For some reason, this past month I’ve been pondering her response to the angelic news that she was to be the mother of the Messiah, and this is what I’ve come up with — perhaps Mary understood what a black-hearted sinner she was at a much greater level than we are even capable of today.
She was still a part of a sacrificial system, after all, where the sins she committed had to be paid for every year. A quantifiable cost had to be handed over for every sinful choice she made. Blood was spilt, and a new provider of that blood had to be purchased and killed, over and over again.
When your sin had to be paid for in such a visible, costly way, year after year, while you stood in front of the community steeped in the shame of it — I wonder if it provided an opportunity for a little more insight into the weighty burden of sin.
Mary was part of a community that groaned, looking ahead with yearning hearts toward the promised Messiah who was to come and free them from the whole bloody system.
Which leads me to believe it was wonder she must have felt, knowing what she knew about herself — and still — realizing she was being chosen to be the mother of the Lord.
How can this be? Why me?
I was 39 when I got married, and for most of those 39 years I’d been so petrified of vulnerability and loss that I’d constructed gargantuan walls to protect myself. Thank God my husband had the patience and kindness to invest the necessary time in knocking them down, but that’s another story.
In those first months of marriage, frequently a little jolt would shoot through my body and my eyes would tear up — how did this happen? What did I ever do to deserve this man? In fact, why am I so highly favored could have easily come from my lips.
It was wonder — knowing very well that I didn’t in any way deserve the gift I’d been given — and hand-in-hand with the wonder came gratitude.
But as time went by those wonder jolts came less and less frequently, until about a year into marriage I’d become accustomed. Six or so years later, I only have those jolts every once in a while, when I look at my husband and my eyes fill with tears. When I wish there was a way to demonstrate the depth of my gratitude for the gift of him.
In our daughter’s first months it was even odds that if she was quiet and I had a minute to just stare at her, I would start crying, unable to understand the miracle. Where did you come from little girl? How could this have happened to me?
But I was also curious if the same pattern would play out, and sure enough, she’s just over a year old and the wonder jolts are fading. And therefore the moments of spontaneous gratitude have lessened as well.
It turns out my capacity for wonder lasts about a year.
We’ve all experienced the devastation of the why me question. Almost always, it’s screamed out in a moment of unspeakable loss, when we find ourselves blindsided by the world we’re being forced to live in. But I think the reverse question — why me, in the positive sense — is just as provocative and a lot more truthful.
Why this man? Why this baby girl? Why these never-failing parents? And family and friends in such precious, worthy numbers? Why have I been so showered in such incalculable joys? And for heaven’s sake, why me?
That line of thought often brings me to the most shocking of all, why did my Lord choose me?
Because regarding this one question it seems my capacity for wonder is endless. Each time I truly stop, take enough time to calm down and quiet my mind — I am flabbergasted. Destroyed. Jolted apart at the seams by earthquakes of wonder.
I know who I am. I am black-hearted and desperately wicked. Almost every inclination of my heart is evil, almost all the time — which is especially aggravating given that I’ve been at this a few years and should have moved an inch or so toward the goalpost…at least!
Why me? Why am I so highly favored, that my Lord should choose me to be in His family?
I don’t know. I don’t understand it at all. But the wonder of it electrifies my heart with gratitude and praise, and I am undone.
And I hope you are, too, today. I hope you can take a beat — just one — in this crazy, busy season of shopping and wrapping and cooking and cleaning and planning … to ponder on the greatness of Him and His ridiculously crummy taste in family.
Take a brief, choking look at your own heart — and then look long upon Him and wonder anew.
Why are we so highly favored?
Because He said so, and that is enough.