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Celebrating the Favor of God in Difficult Times

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed… Luke 1:46-48

During the homegoing service for my mother, I sat in the church while family and loved ones were crying and mourning for the matriarch of the family. My siblings were inconsolable. My nieces and nephews and other family members were heartbroken. Everyone was waiting to hear what I was going to say. They knew how much I loved my mother. When my mother died, I felt the best part of me also died. I tried very hard to hold back my tears as I wrestled with the depth of my grief. But as I was preparing to go on the pulpit to eulogize my mother, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me. He asked me, will you praise God in your grief? Can you celebrate the favor of God in the most difficult time of your life? Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and inexplicable joy. I reminded family and loved ones that God is still worthy to be praised. Though they are mourning, they should also celebrate the glory of God in their pain.

When the Holy Spirit told Mary she was going to get pregnant with the baby Jesus, she did not ask why or complain about the unfairness of her circumstances. She knew the pregnancy was a threat to her marriage to Joseph and a threat to her life. The ministry that had been assigned to Mary was both a blessing and a curse. Mary was excited and honored to be a chosen vessel for God to bring His Only Begotten Son into the world. She knew how difficult her life was going to become. Yet, Luke tells us that Mary celebrated the favor of God in her life during this difficult time. Mary said, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” That’s an impressive thing for a teenage girl to do at the most difficult time of her life.

Those who celebrate the favor of God during difficult times reap a harvest of joy and walk in victory despite their circumstances. The only way we can celebrate the power of God in difficult times is by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who ministered to me during the homegoing service for my mother and told me that everything was going to be okay. The Holy Spirit gave me His comforting grace and put a song of joy in my spirit.

To celebrate the favor of God in difficult times we must learn to turn our worry into worship. When our hearts are broken, and sorrow is overwhelming our souls, we should look back and think about what God has done for us (past and present), then count our blessings and praise His name. It’s okay to have a pity party for a little while, but we should be careful not to short-circuit our blessings by focusing too much on our pains while ignoring the providential love of the God who has brought us through many difficult times in the past.

When the Holy Spirit told Mary about the major changes that were about to happen in her life, she was excited about her new ministry. She rejoiced when she should have been displeased. Because “We know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,” we should rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).

Mary was more focused on what God was doing through her than on what was happening to her. She trusted that God would not put more on her than she could bear. Thus, she was able to sing the glory of God when she should have been crying. Mary’s words remind me of the words from Horatio G. Spafford, who upon hearing that her wife and daughters had died after losing their home and business in the great Chicago fire of 1871:

When peace like a river attendeth my way When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul

Questions for Personal Reflection

How have you celebrated the favor of God in difficult times?

How has the Holy Spirit ministered to you when you set out to celebrate God in difficult times?

Prayer- Blessed Lord, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to minister to me during my difficult times. Please help me to rejoice when sorrows like seas billows roll in my life. May I learn to turn my worry into worship so I can continue to trust in you all the days of my life!

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