A Faith-Filled Perspective of Mary as a Model of Resilience and Courage
We are all familiar with the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. You likely have the image of an all-perfect, hallowed mother holding a perfectly well-behaved child at the mention of her name.
It may seem hard to relate. But Mary is a model of how to live in times of great uncertainty and distress.
We have all had huge life changes happen, which were often unexpected. During a season of major change in my life, I realized Mary herself went through a dramatic and sudden change when the angel appeared to her and announced that she would have a child who was God’s son. So let’s examine the story of Mary and how she responds to a sense of trauma with resilience and courage.
How does Mary respond?
Mary is immediately receptive to the idea that this change was from God and that God was with her in the midst of her situation. Mary shows humility in her response by trusting that God was in control and knew what was best for her. It gives us the confidence to move forward. It gives us the courage to face the future if we can put our trust in God and believe that God is somehow still in control when it seems our world is falling apart.
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Mary is with Jesus faithfully until the end. She accepts the burden to bear Christ as a lifelong calling. She sees her role as Jesus’s mother as her calling and purpose from God. This response offers us a model of resilience in facing trauma because it acknowledges a sense of meaning in suffering. Mary knew God’s calling and was willing to follow her calling every day. Mary knew she was part of God moving on earth and was willing to make whatever sacrifice needed to fulfill her call.
The connection between calling and suffering
If we want to make a difference in our world and take a stand for our beliefs and values, then there will be suffering. Who wants to suffer?! We know this intuitively, but perhaps we try to escape suffering for our values. But if it’s true that we will suffer for doing what is right, for taking a stand for our values, then we gain perspective on our past suffering. We see how our past suffering was God’s way of preparing us for the coming challenges. This is certainly my own experience.
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How can we thrive amid suffering?
Maintaining a proper perspective amid suffering is vital. How can we do this? Foster joy amid our trials. In the mess of this world, we can keep focused on what matters. And what matters is being fully human—embracing community and being fully present with others. We find meaning and purpose when we engage in human interactions, do good to others, and are friendly and giving. Being present like this leads to joy. Thankfulness and gratitude lead to joy.
The beauty of this process is that as we bring joy to others (even when we are going through a hard time), joy returns to us. We can find meaning in our suffering as we emerge from our pain to bless someone else. Knowing that God’s peace and presence will never leave us is an additional blessing for people of faith.
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