Do you remember as a child finding it hard to go to sleep on Christmas Eve? You knew you had to go to sleep in order for Santa to arrive with presents, but your anticipation of the gifts coming to you filled you with an energy and excitement that threatened to rob you of your sleep. Though the presents had not yet arrived, you laid claim to the promise they were coming; while you waited, you began celebrating the fact they were on the way. This type of anticipatory excitement surrounding God promises is evident throughout the text before us.
In chapter 1, Luke provides a vivid description of God’s promise to Mary and her cousin Elizabeth that God would bring forth children for both of them in truly miraculous ways. For Elizabeth, in spite of her barren condition, God would bless her and her husband with a child. Through Mary, God promised to give birth to the Messiah. God blessed both women with what they could not achieve on their own. God did it all by Himself.
Claiming the Promise
It is with the promise of a child fresh in her heart that Mary traveled to see Elizabeth. Can you imagine what she might have been thinking as she traveled? “Did I really hear God correctly? Could it be possible that Elizabeth is pregnant? How on earth will I bring forth a child when I have not been with a man?”
As is so often the case, the human mind staggers before the immensity of God’s promises. The Bible is filled with promises God has made to those who love and trust Him. Like Mary, we must by faith claim the promises of God as our own. For example, in the midst of difficult times, we must embrace God’s promise of peace. When encountering tragedy and experiencing grief, we must embrace God’s promise of comfort as our own. When confronted with our past, and the potential shame that may arise from reflection on past deeds, we must remember that in God we have been made brand new.
Experiencing the Possibility
If we are honest we ourselves, we would acknowledge that the magnitude of God’s promises can cause us to wonder if we understood God’s promise correctly or if they really are intended for us. It is in these moments the church is so important to our journeys as Christians.
Notice that Mary traveled to Elizabeth, and in doing so received confirmation that God’s promise to her was real. When Mary entered Elizabeth’s home, the child within Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice and leapt for joy. First, Mary saw what God had done for Elizabeth when God promised. This alone reminded Mary that the same God who brought forth life in her cousin is more than able to do the same for her.
Second, God worked through Elizabeth to confirm God’s intention for Mary. Elizabeth’s blessing over Mary confirmed that what the angel said to Mary would come to pass. In like manner, each of us receives confirmation of God’s promises to us through the lives of other Christians. When we see the living testimony of others or hear how God has blessed a fellow believer, we are reminded God can do the same for us. On occasion, God will speak to us through those with whom we are in Christian fellowship to provide us confirmation that God’s promises are ours.
From Promise to Praise
Our hearts can rest in confidence that God will fulfill every promise God has made. Our acceptance of God’s promises, and the confirmation we find in life that God is faithful to His promises, naturally should lead us to praise God. This is what happened to Mary.
As you continue reading Luke’s account, Mary began to praise God for His promises to her. It is important to keep in mind that Mary was not praising God because the promise had been fulfilled. Instead, before the promise materialized, Mary lifted her voice to God in praise.
In like manner, you don’t have to wait until God has performed God’s will in your life or the promise has been realized to offer God your praise. Before the battle is over, before the storm has passed, before the mountain in your life has moved, you can lift your voice in praise. For your praise is not simply a post-victory celebration but a pre-victory celebration. Whenever we embrace God’s faithfulness and His promises, it naturally and joyously leads us to praise.