Our culture loves the story of the underdog. Take your pick from Rudy, Karate Kid, Star Wars, or Rocky I, II, III (or any of the other five movies of the franchise). It seems that in every generation there’s at least one or two retellings of this story. And if these heartwarming stories of triumph in the face of certain defeat seem too good to be true, it’s because we’ve forgotten about the theological origin of this motif. We see it throughout Scripture, but we see it powerfully displayed in Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Here she is, a virgin as young as sixteen, stating an obvious question to the angel’s incredible message that she will give birth to Christ: “How will this be, since I am a virgin she asks?” (Luke 1:34)
While none of us have been in the exact shoes of Mary in giving birth by the divine power of God, you may have nonetheless found yourself in a similar position, in which God seems to promise or demand the impossible for you:
God, how will this be? Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?
If that’s your default response (as it is mine) you’re in good company. It’s a question Moses asked of Yahweh when he was sent to proclaim to Pharoah (Exodus 4:10). It’s a question Gideon asked of the angel of the LORD when he was charged to liberate Israel from Midian (Judges 6:15). It’s a sentiment Isaiah proclaimed when he was taken into the throne room of God (Isaiah 6:5).
But the angel’s response to Mary, as it ever is to you and to me, is this: when I am weak, limited, at the end of my rope – that’s the very moment God’s power and ability kicks in. This ends up being the very reason that he rejoices in picking the underdogs, the least of these, to accomplish great things: He doesn’t have an arbitrary preference to weakness – far from it – rather, He chooses those who are painfully aware of their “humble estate” (Luke 1:48) so He can take them on the wildest ride of their lives, and use them to display His great power – a power that “overshadows” Mary’s limitations just as it overshadows yours and mine.
Your limitations aren’t an obstacle for Him to overcome. Rather, it’s the very qualification He’s looking for to display the wonders of His greatness, His goodness, and His grace.
Pastor Ryan Lunde
Young Adult Ministry