When Favor Doesn’t Look Like Favor

I have often prayed for the favor of God to rest upon my family and myself. I have prayed for the favor of God to be upon my friends or over different ministries.  I have spoken these words asking for God’s favor to be poured out abundantly with the thought, favor = blessings. Merriam-Webster defines favor as approval, support, popularity, preference for one person or group. So my equation of favor = blessing seems accurate until you read Luke 1:26-29.

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Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazereth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgins name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Hail, favored one!” “The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. Luke 1:26-29 NASB

In this scripture the angel Gabriel comes to the betrothed virgin Mary to inform her that she will be pregnant with a son from The Most High and his name will be Jesus. Before Gabriel tells Mary that she will be pregnant he calls her, “Favored one!”

Heidi Baker says in her book Birthing The Miraculous, 

If we desire the favor of God on our lives, we should consider what it might look like. It is not always going to be cash and promotions and the like. Mary’s favor was that of a simple Jewish girl who suddenly found herself pregnant. In all likelihood she would have had to deal with terrible gossip, criticism, and disapproval from her community. The first thing she had to do was nurture, protect and love the life growing within her despite a great deal of misunderstanding and pain.

Mary responded to Gabriels salutation by feeling troubled because she had no idea why she was so favored. It was not that Mary didn’t want God’s favor but I believe that Mary was wise enough to recognize the weight in the word “favor.” I believe she wondered what this favor would look like or if she could handle it.

I sadly relate to Heidi Baker’s above excerpt. I consider God’s favor to be the evidence of prosperity, health and thriving and that is it. I want God’s favor to be poured out in my life and in the lives of those around me. I want God to pour out the favor that I am familiar with. Although, would you and I consider ourselves or our ministry favored if the favor is something that will bring discomfort, stretching, sacrifice, and criticism?

Right now I stand upon a precipice looking out at what God is calling me to through writing this book, and I confess it is somewhat scary and intimidating yet it also draws me because I want to be apart of what God is birthing within me. I do consider myself favored because God did the calling, God made the way and God is providing. But I also know that stretching is coming, discomfort will be coming, there will be sacrifices that will need to be made, and yes there will be criticism.

I looked up what the Greek translation was for the word favored in that scripture, it actually means “grace”. Grace is the power God gives you to do what He calls you to. God was extending grace, to Mary so that she could carry Jesus full term. God poured out His grace so that Mary could birth our miraculous savior!

The same grace that God gave Mary is the grace God wants to pour out on to you and me.  God gives us this grace so that we can have the power to do the things He calls us to. Maybe God has called you to begin a new ministry in your church or community. Maybe God is calling you to begin a movement that’s beyond your capabilities. It may seem difficult and overwhelming because you are not equipped to do that ministry. Remember even Mary didn’t understand all of the mechanics of how she would get pregnant.

Don’t worry though, let God do His part and you do your part – let God equip you with His grace.  Besides, if you were starting a ministry and you could handle everything out of your own strength, that ministry was probably not initiated by God.  God wants to do the miraculous in you. He want’s to take you to the point where all you can do is completely rely on Him.

So, you favored one of God, yield to whatever it is God is calling you to. Receive the favor He pours out on you. Don’t let the discomforts, or stretching or the criticism keep you from being obedient to what God is calling you to. Mary responded to Gabriel’s direction with, “I am the Lord’s servant…may your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary’s response reflected a life that was humbly yielded to God. I pray that would be my response as well as yours. God’s favor can be different from what you and I expected, but may that not deter us from praying for His favor to be poured out abundantly in our lives.

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