In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!”
Luke 1:39-45 (CSB)
When I was pregnant with my first, I was equal parts terrified and excited. I didn’t have a holy baby inside me, but I sure felt like the child was God-sent. So at my first ultra-sound, when they told me my tiny baby was dead, I was devastated. I felt like shattered glass, even my limbs and skin felt jagged and fragile and raw.
But I had a flicker of hope. I hurried to God’s Word and reached out to a girlfriend who stood on His promises.
Your first pregnancy is scary enough, but imagine being Mary — a virgin told by an angel you are going to have God’s baby! That’s a little much for anyone to be able to hold together alone. So what does Mary do?
She reaches for a girlfriend who would understand.
Luke writes that Mary “set out and hurried” to the hill country where her relative, Elizabeth, lived. We don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing Mary felt compelled to see Elizabeth because she wasn’t quite sure about everything that had happened to her. I can just imagine her thinking, “Did that really happen? Maybe Elizabeth isn’t pregnant and it was all a dream. Or maybe she is pregnant and it wasn’t a dream!”
Mary’s emotions must have bounced around inside her heart like a tennis ball. We see her hope, because without Gabriel telling her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Mary wouldn’t have thought of her relative. There were no phones or email to double-check this news. She had to go herself.
It seems that when Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house, she rushed right in, calling out Elizabeth’s name. Have you ever been there? Not invited in but needing someone’s comfort and connection right away?
My friend was the mother of the bride the weekend I heard about my baby. I was helping at the wedding but couldn’t hold my need. I rushed right in and asked her and her family to pray for me and my sweet unborn child.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, God moved inside her. Yes, it was baby John, the future messenger of God who jumped inside her. But Luke writes that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit, who resided in the Holy of Holies, suffused Elizabeth. This was a gift usually reserved for prophets and kings. What an intimate gift from a loving heavenly Father! With the Holy Spirit inside, Elizabeth knew and believed immediately — even without hearing Mary’s story — in the Son of God, growing in Mary’s womb. Elizabeth, this older woman, with a miracle of her own, spoke life and truth to Mary’s young heart.
When my friend and her family placed their hands on me and prayed, I heard truth and life come from her mouth. She prayed that my child would live. Her faith spoke to my dwindling one and caused my faith to jump in me.
Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s faith was to rejoice in the Lord. If she had doubts before, they were gone now. She pens a song to God, championing His power and faithfulness. The Scripture is so specific in the timeline, and it seems that Mary stayed to see John’s birth. I imagine Elizabeth and Mary over the next few months discussing angelic visitations, their hopes for their sons, and worshiping God as one. I can almost see the two of them — one older, one younger — both with pregnant bellies, laughing and crying together.
What rejoicing there must have been when John was born! The faith of both women solidified as they cradled the newborn prophet.
When my daughter was born, healthy and normal despite the doctor’s pronouncement, my friend was in the waiting room, next to my parents, standing by to see the miracle. And even though we’ve moved across the country from each other, my heart is knitted to hers. She is the Elizabeth to my Mary. She believed when I only hoped. She spoke life to me. She allowed the Holy Spirit to work through her.
When you’re feeling like Mary and can hardly believe what’s happening around you, barge into an older, wiser, more experienced friend’s home or inbox and ask her to encourage you. Let a younger woman into your world and point her to the Lord. Remind her of God’s promises and plans for her. Show her what God has done for you.
God orchestrated the births of Jesus and John. He chose their mothers, not only for the sake of their babies, but God chose Mary and Elizabeth for each other too. Let’s be intentional with our friendships. Let’s “set out and hurry” to a girlfriend during the hard, crazy, amazing times. God can, and will, orchestrate the same kind of Mary-and-Elizabeth relationships for us too.
We’re so happy to share this excerpt from the (in)courage Devotional Bible on this holy day, Christmas Eve. May yours be merry and bright.
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