Heights of humility: Day six
Please enjoy today's reflection from our September-December issue of New Daylight.
Heights of humility
‘His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.’ And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Luke 1:50-56 (NRSV)
With its many echoes of Old Testament praise, it is likely that Mary used words familiar to her, which were later written down and maybe elaborated. As one commentator observed, she was unlikely to have composed it extempore! But she sees in her own situation an echo of the character and working of God throughout the history of her people.
The theme of humility is one that will be taken up by Jesus on many occasions, that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Awareness of one’s own poverty, inadequacy, need and therefore dependence on God is key to our understanding of the beatitudes. Only when we come to him empty-handed are we able to receive mercy, restoration, spiritual food and everything else that is contained in the promises of God.
There is a challenge here to remember to take a long view. The temptation is to be so caught up in the immediate frustrations of our situation – why doesn’t God intervene and answer our prayers? – that we forget we are part of a much bigger story in which the workings of God are not always apparent, but are assuredly bringing about the redemption of all things. Mary and Elizabeth could never have imagined all that the future would hold for their unborn children, but their joy and trust can inspire us.
Loving God, grant us grace to trust you in the face of uncertainty, to rejoice in the certainty of your love and greater purposes for us and humbly to seek you for all we need to fulfil our calling.
Written by SHEILA WALKER
Find our New Daylight Bible reading notes