Note: I received this devotion from a friend and have rewritten/edited it slightly to reflect my own thoughts. Thanks Mark! 

God finishes what He starts… especially when we don’t understand, are confused, or wonder what is going on.  Consider Mary…

Luke 1:26-33, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” ESV

Mary found favor with God but that did not mean success, power, money or fame.  It meant she would suffer ridicule and gossip.  It meant the man she was engaged to marry would come close to turning away from her – which meant sending her away to have her baby.  This meant both she and the baby would be marked for life as immoral.  It ended up maning she gave birth in a stable, with donkeys and cattle as witnesses.  Then she would have to flee with her husband to Egypt for fear of the baby being killed.  It meant that she would watch her first born son suffer and die on a cross.

But through her pain, Mary‘s son would be the only hope of the world.  Through her pain would come the One who would provide salvation to all who will accept it.  Through her pain, God would illustrate His infinite love for mankind.  Through her pain, God accomplished His plan.

If you are a believer in Christ, God has a plan for your life… but the road that follows His plan is often hard.  Most of us require a large amount of “polishing” before we become a shining reflection of Jesus.  We have many, many rough spots that God must smooth out before we can reflect Jesus to the world in the way that He wills.  Before we can accomplish His will, we have to be educated through His Word and the “School of Hard Knocks.” But, like Mary, through our pain, He makes His glory shine to the world around us.

If you are a believer, you have been favored by God.  That doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing but that God will do whatever it takes to make you more like Christ.  So if life is rough, be patient.  Praise God that you have found favor with Him.  And marvel at what He does with you in order to carry out His plan.

Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”