Mary and Elizabeth's Friendship

Dear Friends,

Last week we looked at Mary's response to the news Angel Gabriel brought her that she was going to be with child, and that the child would be Jesus, the Saviour of the world.  

At the same time, the Angel told her that "your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month." Luke 1:36 (NLT) 

I don't know for sure, but I believe that being in the early stages of pregnancy must have been quite a vulnerable time for Mary.  Physical changes within her body, experiencing a variety of emotions and having to cope with people's responses to her news.  It could not have been an easy time for her, and I imagine she must have felt quite alone in it as she had to face the misunderstanding, criticism and judgement from those around her.

But she remembered what the Angel had told her about Elizabeth and "39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:39-45 (NLT).

Mary needed to be with someone who could be a good friend to her, someone who understood what she was going through, who had experienced something similar, and Elizabeth was that person for her.  Being further along in the pregnancy, Elizabeth could share from her own experiences.  She was able to be a support for Mary and provide her with somewhere she could be herself, a refuge, a safe place where she was loved and accepted without fear of condemnation.  Elizabeth was able to share with Mary from her own spiritual understanding and she expressed joy and praised God on seeing Mary and, I think, this prompted Mary to also respond in joy and praise towards God.  She must have been such a source of encouragement for Mary.
"Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home." Luke 1:56 (NLT)  Elizabeth helped Mary adjust to her new situation and Mary stayed long enough to get through the worst of any morning sickness, tiredness, lack of energy and other early symptoms of pregnancy she may have been facing.  By the end of her stay, Mary was stronger physically, spiritually and emotionally.  She was ready to return home and prepare to marry Joseph and become a new mother.
Although we are concentrating on Mary today, I am sure that she would have been a source of encouragement to Elizabeth and support to Elizabeth, as she, an old woman, prepared for the arrival of her own first baby.
God knew how much Mary and Elizabeth needed each other at this particular time, yes Mary had her own family and Elizabeth had her husband, but these two women both needed someone who understood what they were going through and all that it meant for them, someone they could confide in and share with on a far deeper level than that which anyone else was able to provide them with at that particular time.

For myself, I find that the older I get, the more value I place on friendships.

My son, tells me how many 'friends' he has on Facebook, but that's not what I mean by friendship, I'm referring to good, real friends who don't get going when the going gets tough, who are there in both the good and the bad times, who don't 'un-friend' me  for no good reason.

God knows how essential relationships are, and how we all need good friendships whatever our age, gender, culture, background. Friendships which offer acceptance, which allow us to be ourselves, where we celebrate the joys of life together and support, comfort and encourage each other in the midst of tough times. The kind of friendships where we can confide in one another and feel safe doing so, where we are not criticised or judged but shown understanding. Friendships which have God at the centre, and are all the better for having him in it, within which we can share and talk about God and pray with and for each other. 

To Think About
Who comes to mind when you consider this kind of friendship?  Spend some time thanking God for them. Why not show them your appreciation in some way, perhaps with a handwritten note expressing your appreciation, or inviting them round for coffee, or giving them a small gift etc. 

If you can't think of anyone like this in your life at the moment, why do you think this might be?  Is there anything you can do to change this?  

God did not make us to be alone so what can you do to cultivate this kind of friendship with someone you know? 



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