Does God notice us? In the grand scheme of the world, do our lives even matter? What do we do when we find everything in our life seems to be on shaky ground?
Like the past couple of posts, this one focuses on a Christmas song… Only we don’t know the tune, so we can’t sing along and I can’t post a YouTube of it. The song is known on some playlists as The Magnificat and it belongs to Mary. She writes it after her world is turned upside-down; an angel has just told her she will give birth to the son of God. She is an unwed virgin; what will people think? Elizabeth, who also finds herself unexpectedly pregnant credits Mary’s faith and Mary’s response is poetic.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
“He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” God notices us.
Sometimes, reflecting on one’s own life feels so… selfish. So narcissistic. And don’t get me wrong, in this age of updating facebook statuses and seeking to get noticed not just on campus but on twitter, narcissism has never been easier to attain. But I admit that lately I’ve been thinking about my own life a lot and sometimes I wonder where the line of navel-gazing is. When does introspection become unhealthy for the introspector and those in his or her life? I think a recent sermon by Dave Rohrer (12/4/11) provided some clarity on this point.
As Dave dissected the Magnificat, he pointed out that God notices. The details of our lives are important to God and worthy of thought and effort. This is Psalm 8: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” God is paying attention. At the same time, God is issuing us an invitation to be part of the greater story — God’s story. Mary goes on to say, “The Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.” She sings of God’s mercy to her. She tells the story of what he has done in previous generations and finishes with God’s mercy that extends from Abraham to … Mary herself. She realizes she is part of something bigger. God has invited her to His story.
I think this is the key for us when we find ourselves in deep introspection, contemplating our own lives. The impetus behind it ought to be a desire to see how our lives fit into God’s story. So that when we focus on our own pain and struggles, we might hope in God — that He can heal and redeem and restore. Of course, this redemption doesn’t always happen in our timing, but the idea is that we can see our struggles in the light of God’s hope. When we ask if God is even noticing, we can be reminded that not only has He noticed us, but He has entered in to our struggle through the very birth of Jesus.
Advent (and the Magnificat in particular) are invitations — reminders to keep watching, waiting, looking for what God is doing. Which means I can lament the past and the pain in my life, but I can also rejoice that God not only notices and cares about the pain, but wants to heal and redeem, bringing the hope I need that my story — an important story — is one small part of something much bigger God is doing in the world.
You are mindful of our state. Right now.
Help us to value our story and the details of our lives the same way You do, but to write that story in the bigger context of Your Word & Your story.
Becky R, UMin Executive Assistant