Day 5

December 1

December 1

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Word of God Will Never Fail

by Amanda Hering, Ph.D.

Two elements stand out to me in this passage. First, in just a brief moment, Mary’s life was completely upended. In the New Living Translation, it says that she is “confused and disturbed” when Gabriel greets her. Of course she is! Who wouldn’t be? And Mary is only a young girl! Many people misquote Scripture to me and say that “God will not give you a circumstance or situation beyond your ability to handle it.” That is not true. What the Scripture says is that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13), but He will often place us in situations that require us to lean on Him, trust in Him, and ask for His help.

2 Corinthians 2:9-10 says that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness and that His grace is sufficient for us. In bleak moments, the key to survival is to look up to God. Don’t look around at others…what they think, what they would do, or how they will treat you, and don’t look down at the ground in defeat. God routinely gives us situations and tasks beyond our human abilities. I experienced such situations myself this year as I walked with my husband through the end of his cancer treatments and in the months since I last held his hand. And in moments when absolutely nothing makes sense, God tells me, “Don’t be afraid, Mandy.”

Second, at the end of the passage, “For the word of God will never fail.” I must pause here because it takes some time for this to soak into my thoughts and to appreciate the wonder of this statement. His word will not fail. The angel says this to Mary personally, so I take it personally, in terms of what God has done, is doing, and will do for me. My sins and failings are washed away by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross; I’m His child, and He is my father; I’ve been made new and am restored to Him; He goes to prepare a place for me; He will never leave me nor forsake me; I have eternal life with Him; He meets my needs; I am sealed by the Holy Spirit; He will make my paths straight; and He is coming back. There are so many incredible promises that God makes to us in Scripture.

To Mary, the angel says that this child will rule over all of Israel, and His kingdom will never end. How she must have clung to those words, repeating them over and over in her mind! Similarly, I find myself clinging to God’s words, celebrating promises already fulfilled, and looking forward to those that are yet to come.

Learn More About Our Guest Writer

Amanda Hering, Ph.D.Amanda Hering, Ph.D.

Amanda Hering, Ph.D., joined Baylor University’s faculty in 2016 as an associate professor, later appointed to professor in 2021. She is a statistical modeler with problems requiring multivariate time series, spatial statistics, Markov-switching, clustering, and validation of primary interest. Much of her work is interdisciplinary with applications ranging from wind energy to water reuse to defense. Her current interests are in modeling big, multivariate, spatial datasets; developing methods for categorical spatial data; and detecting outliers and faults for process and data monitoring. Dr. Hering works with researchers whose data structures generate new statistical methodologies because either the goals or the size of the data presents a new challenge.

She obtained her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in Statistics in 2009. She joined the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado in 2009 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016. She is an Associate Editor for the following journals: Environmetrics, Technometrics, and Data Science in Science.