The fifteen-year-old nervously twists a strand of her hair, eyes darting around the room. Suddenly she bursts into tears.
“My parents are going to kill me!” she cries.
The positive pregnancy test has shaken her. She fears losing her boyfriend, along with her family’s good graces. Going to college seems like a pipe dream.
The future looks overwhelming.
Thankfully, this young woman is in good hands. She is in the client room of a pregnancy help center, pouring out her troubles to a caring client advocate.
She’ll find the emotional, spiritual and practical support she needs. She’ll regain hope and recalibrate her future.
And she’ll be able to move forward without sacrificing her child in the process.
As I glance at the Nativity scene in my living room, my eyes linger on one figure in that scene—someone who serves as a wonderful role model for girls and women facing a pregnancy crisis.
On the one hand, Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus, and why and how it happened, was unlike any other pregnancy ever.
On the other hand, Mary faced numerous concerns which make her experience something relatable for pregnancy center clients.
To understand the degree of risk and danger Mary faced once she said yes to God’s plan, let’s establish some context around her one-of-a-kind unplanned pregnancy.
When the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear God’s Son by means of the Holy Spirit, she is betrothed to Joseph of the house of David.
Forget about today’s loose concept of “fiancée” or “engaged” and the gamut of what people might mean by such terms (too often, that they are sexually involved but waffling about a wedding date).
Betrothal was quite different from that. It was a serious commitment in that time and culture. If you were betrothed, you were one small step away from marriage—and you did NOT consummate the relationship until the wedding night.
The punishment for unfaithfulness was death.
Keep in mind, too, that ancient Israelite culture was patriarchal. Women were treated with greater suspicion and harsher treatment than men.
Case in point:
In John 8:2-11, the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus to try to trap him.
“In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women,” they say. “So what do you say?”
Jesus outwits them, suggesting that whichever of them is without sin should throw the first rock. Slowly, they leave. He then speaks kindly to the woman and tells her to stop sinning.
What’s interesting is these hyper-religious men conveniently forget half of the law they cite. Leviticus 20:10 says,
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.”
So where is the guilty man? Why do they only frighten and shame the woman?
My point is this: Mary lived in a cultural context that was particularly dangerous for women when it came to law and punishment.
It is in this context that she hears the angel’s announcement.
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High...” – Luke 1:30-31
Mary asks how this can be, since she has never had sexual relations with a man.
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God…For nothing will be impossible with God.” –Luke 1:35-37
Mary responds with remarkable faith. She replies, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Consider what Mary had to weigh out in those profound moments. No wonder the angel addressed her fears!
In one short conversation, everything Mary believes and hopes for as a young woman who trusts in the God of Israel comes into sharp focus—and with that, the price she must pay.
I’m going to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. The Messiah we have waited for all these centuries…I am to bear him.
No one will believe me! What if they stone me? What about Joseph? How can I explain this to him? And my family?
Though Mary is innocent of sexual sin, circumstances force her into the same position as that of our clients.
Fear of shame and judgment. Fear of broken relationships. Fear about the future.
In the face of dire consequences, despite the danger she faces, Mary says yes to participating in God’s plan.
She offers her heart to God and her womb as a sanctuary for His Son to spend his first nine months of life on earth.
She says yes to raising the Messiah as a poor, young, first-time mom, having no guarantee as to who would support her in this.
She lays down her own plans—her thoughts on what life should look like, her ideas of what she could accomplish or enjoy someday.
With courage and faith, she steps into her true, God-given destiny.
This is the choice every woman in a pregnancy crisis faces—because choosing life for one’s child is a way of submitting to God.
Tweet This: This is the choice every woman in a pregnancy crisis faces—because choosing life for one’s child is a way of submitting to God.
It is the same choice all of us face, in various ways, again and again:
Will I struggle to be the master of my own fate? Or lay down the illusion of control and say yes to God?
Trusting God does not guarantee an easy life—but it does give us supernatural peace and strength to live out our God-given purpose.
Tweet This: Trusting God does not guarantee an easy life—but it does give us supernatural peace and strength to live out our God-given purpose.
This Christmas let’s allow Mary in the manger scene to remind us…submitting to God’s plan is always well worth the cost.