“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46).
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would be with child, she had questions. How could it be when she was yet a virgin? She accepted Gabriel’s answer to her question. She also accepted as truth the incredible news from Gabriel that her cousin Elizabeth was with child.
Not long after Gabriel had told her these things, Mary went to visit Elizabeth. They both were in “impossible” situations. Neither one should be with child. A virgin had never, in all history, borne a child. And someone “well stricken in years” and barren just didn’t conceive. Rarely in history had this happened.
Is it any wonder that they wanted to be together, out of the public eye? When Mary arrived and the unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb “leaped for joy,” unspeakable joy, awe, and gladness must have flooded their hearts. It was a clear witness of what Gabriel had told both Mary and Zacharias. Mary’s heart, soul, and mind must have been pulsing with God’s presence when she uttered these words, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
What did she mean by “magnify?” To magnify is to enlarge or intensify. A magnifying glass can be used to enlarge things. It must be lined up exactly to the object you want enlarged, or you will get a distorted view. So, then, how does one’s soul magnify the Lord?
How different the story would be if Mary had not magnified the Lord. She could not have been in the presence of the angel for more than a few minutes, but in that short time, she agreed to do what the Lord was asking of her. After the angel had left, she surely spent much time thinking and trying to understand what was happening to her life. She could have let the glass slip a little to the side. And she could have wondered what God was thinking. How could He ask someone to suffer disgrace and shame like she was about to suffer? For an unmarried woman who was with child would be shunned and scorned. The Law had been broken! Even though she might tell them she was carrying God’s Son, few would believe her. To some it was blasphemy. And how could a loving God expect her to ever marry? How could Joseph remain true to her in this situation? Really, God was asking the impossible.
How could a King have such a lowly beginning? She had every reason to say to God, “Really, this can’t be done! No one will believe He’s a King and that He’s Your Son. He’s disgraced before He’s even born.”
And how natural it would have been for her and Elizabeth to shake their heads and say, “You know, the angel came and said it, but really, people aren’t going to believe us. And if Joseph would even keep the engagement, who would come to the wedding?” How Mary could have doubted! How her soul could have magnified her troubles.
And, in truth, she must have suffered many of these things, but her soul magnified the Lord! She trusted her Lord to do His own righteous will. Her soul was set on Him! She knew He would be true to her. Faith was the glass that made her soul magnify the Lord. And it was set on Him alone. Her own wishes and desires didn’t seem to fit under that glass. The Lord so filled her vision that there was no room for doubts or questions. For under that glass was Truth. She believed what Gabriel said to her in Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” With a promise like that, she could only see the lover of her Lord under her glass.
She was human like you and me. She was not supernatural with no choice. She had the same grace available to her that we do. She chose where to set her magnifying glass, and she chose the Lord. She did not choose Him because He offered her a life of ease with plenty of money for her desires, with friends aplenty and the rights a mother of a king should have. Her choice was made with no strings attached. She was simply willing to be “the handmaiden of the Lord,” knowing she had found favor in God’s sight. Interestingly, the angel promised to Zacharias that their lives would be filled with joy at the birth of their son, but to Mary he only said she would bring forth the Messiah. He did not mention joy or happiness. But in her complete surrender to God’s will, she had joy, and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior, and henceforth all generations would call her blessed. As she gave herself to God’s plan for her, she was indeed blessed.
Like Mary, God gives each of us a life to live, a set of plans. He gently leads us the way He sees would be best. He only gives us what we can handle. His timing is always perfect, though we cannot always see it that way. If our souls magnify the Lord, we will do what He says, and we will trust Him to help us through the obstacles. Sometimes He removes the obstacle. His way is often different than the way we would go. Often it is a difficult route. We can’t make it alone. He does this because He wants our souls to magnify Him, because then His power can be shown. When we magnify our troubles, His power is not so readily available to us. Then the devil gets in there and wears us down. Our faith becomes weak. The way begins to look too difficult. We can even begin to ask, “Hath God said?” Surely He has a path of less resistance, a path that our friends won’t question. Sometimes His plan involves more money than we think we have. We see the impossibility of it, and we begin to reason our way out of it. We don’t believe that with God nothing is impossible.
The story of our Savior would have been so different if Mary had not given her life for God’s cause. God would have had to look for another one who was willing. Would you be willing? Would you give up your social position? Would you be willing to get out of your comfort zone so you could give your life for your Lord? In giving her life to God’s plan, Mary won a victory. This victory was not just for herself but for all mankind. Her unselfishness, faith, and loyalty have made her blessed. And everyone who has chosen Christ experiences that same blessing.
Are you willing to magnify the Lord and make a difference in your life and your children’s lives? In the life of the stranger you meet up town or in the life of some lonely child? Will you be called blessed? Never underestimate the power of that one single decision to let your life magnify the Lord.
May we center our glass on Him! And may God bless each of His children.
From Messenger of Truth, Vol. 110, No. 25, December 12, 2012