Day 23

The Magnificat

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan

Luke 1:39-56, Psalm 107:1-9, Luke 6:20-22

BY Erin Davis

The first Christmas I had a son of my own, the song “Mary Did You Know” unraveled me. I’d sung the words at plenty of Christmas services and always imagined Mary in sepia tones with a serene expression. But then I carried a child inside my very own body and delivered him into a terrifying world, just like Mary did, and suddenly I saw her differently.

It was jarring to look again at her story in Scripture and realize Mary did not know.

The angel Gabriel was brief in his description of how her life was about to change. So she knew she was going to have a baby, conceived by the Holy Spirit, who would be the Savior of mankind—the rest of the details were a little fuzzy. But when Mary arrived at her cousin Elizabeth’s house, the mood was celebratory. The babies were leaping, the mamas were squealing, and the occasion was one of great joy.

Mary didn’t yet know that her betrothed Joseph would make plans to leave her (Matthew 1:18). She couldn’t foresee that her child would one day go missing for three days (Luke 2:41–52). The angel didn’t tell Mary that her boy would be arrested and falsely accused of crimes against the state (John 18). It would’ve been impossible for her to imagine that the baby in her belly would be tortured, humiliated, and executed on a criminal’s cross while she stood by and watched, helpless (John 19:25).

Mary didn’t know any of that. But she did know the character of God.

After the angel stopped speaking, and Elizabeth stopped gushing, Mary had an outburst of her own, the tone of which is so different from anything else we hear from her in Scripture, I’m convinced she was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:46–55, known as the Magnificat (Latin for “magnify”), or “Mary’s Song,” is an utterance of praise. For verse after verse, line after line, Mary doesn’t focus on herself; instead she praises God for who He is:

He is the Mighty One.
He has done great things.
His name is holy.
He is merciful.
He has done mighty deeds.
He has toppled the mighty
He has exalted the humble.
He satisfies.
He helps.
He remembers.
He keeps His promises.

It may sound cliché, but it’s certainly true: Mary did not know what the future held. But she knew who held the future together in His hands. Because her life was built on the bedrock truth of God’s character, she could lay down her “yes,” trusting God in moments of both supernatural joy and deep, human grief (John 19:25–27).

Mary’s story is not about us any more than Jesus’s arrival was about her, but I can’t help but want to be more like her. So many of God’s promises to me are crystal clear: He will finish the work He started in me (Philippians 1:6), He will return for His bride (Revelation 1:7), He will wipe away every tear from my eyes (Revelation 21:4). Still, there are other details about this life that remain “fuzzy,” so to speak. I don’t know what tomorrow holds or what brand of suffering waits round the bend. But I do know the character of God.

He is more than enough reason for my whole life to become an utterance of praise unto Him. This Advent season may our hearts overflow with a magnificat of our own, praising God for who He’s always been, and who He promises to always be.

Post Comments (47)

47 thoughts on "The Magnificat"

  1. Amoreena Fidani says:

    I love this reflection on Mary. I, too, want to rest and hope in His character— His goodness and obey, without being consumed by the unknowns and details.

  2. Tracie Nall says:

    “Praising God for who He has always been and who He promises to always be”…
    I think about this quote in light of Mary the “mom” who makes her so relatable to us, she didn’t know that the heart that was filled with joy and excitement and anticipation would one day be pierced so many could accept her son into their hearts to make Him a home so He could dwell with us.
    Parenting is my greatest walk of “faith” not knowing what or how or when the next crisis will come to fruition but trusting that God does, isn’t surprised by and is always prepared for and has been preparing me too.

  3. E. Redmond says:

    Renee R.
    I am praying for you and you children today… that you would feel upheld by God’s mighty right hand!! He has promised to use all things for the good of those who love Him and I am sure that this doesn’t feel good right now!!! I am praying for comfort for your human, womanly, mama’s heart!!! For comfort, yes, and even for joy!!! …joy and rest in Him, the one who rescues!! The storms and sorrows of this life draw us closer to Him. He did not intend for us to live this way and He will not leave us this way!! He is the God who makes all things new!! He restores and brings dead things to life!! You are prayed for in Buffalo, NY. I discovered the comfort of the history of waiting I. The book of Hebrews when my own heart was in shambles. He is my rock.

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