Bible Society of South Africa

Mary: the unlikely girl – 6 August 2021

By Xanthe Hancox

Bible text(s)

Mary's Song of Praise

46Mary said,

“My heart praises the Lord;

47my soul is glad because of God my Saviour,

48for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!

From now on all people will call me happy,

49because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me.

His name is holy;

Luke 1:46-49GNBOpen in Bible reader

If you ever look up Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1, you’ll see a whole lot of names, some familiar and some not. But what’s really fascinating is that we see five specific women called out in this passage of Scripture. Why did Matthew call out these women in particular? It seems like he was trying to get us to think about these stories, specifically. After all, it wouldn’t have been normal for a woman’s name to be listed in a genealogy.

As South Africa celebrates Women’s Day this coming Monday, it seemed like a good place to look at some unlikely women of faith.

A virgin girl was chosen to be the mother of the Saviour of the world. It doesn’t get any more unlikely than that.

She was betrothed to someone when the angel of the Lord told her she would become the mother of the Messiah. As such, she likely faced daily shame and scorn for what others assumed about her. She was probably scared and uncertain of her future, and yet when the angel appears to Mary, her response is an indication of her faith: “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” (Luke 1:38).

Mary recognised her unlikeliness, singing out praises to God in her song (you can read the full song in Luke 1:46-55).

But what remains beautiful about this story is that God never sees anyone as ordinary. God rewarded her faith and planned from the very beginning for her life to be anything but ordinary.

Our own stories might seem unlikely or insignificant. Maybe there are even things in our pasts that we would rather hide than bring into the light. But as evidenced in Matthew 1, Jesus was not afraid to share stories of his family members — even those whose stories were messy or uncomfortable.

How might God use unlikely circumstances in your life to bring about his plans and purpose?

Prayer: Father, give me a heart of faith to believe in your ability to do great things through everyday people like me. Give me the gift of faith to believe that you are doing great things through your people. Take me, mould me, and use me to your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen

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