[Part 5, Chapter 33]
The numbing injection had run out.
Well, to be honest, it never kicked in at all. “Put your hand in the air,” the dentist said. “If you feel any pain whatsoever, put your hand up straight away.”
My friend was having two wisdom teeth removed, in the dentist chair! The injection hadn’t worked, and his hands stayed on his lap.
“It must have felt like torture,” I winced sympathetically. “Why didn’t you put your hand up?”
“I didn’t want to be appear weak.”
Instead, while his wisdom teeth were extracted, he tried to distract himself from the agony in his mouth by creating a referred pain through wringing his hands together. He clenched his hands so tightly they were bruised for days after.
It produces a truckload of pain.
It leads to a fall. It defeats the strongest of warriors.
Humility is the opposite of pride. And God loves working in opposites.
He says whoever becomes humble like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:4).
Jesus declares that all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted (Matthew 23:12).
The bible says God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:12).
Mary rejoices that God will fill the humble with good things (Luke 1:53).
People who practise pride presume that it’s akin to strength, that it gets them through.
The God of opposites reveals it is, in fact, humility that holds hands with courage.
Mary is courageous. She puts her hand in the air and says, “Let it be with me according to your word.” It doesn’t get much bolder than that.
Here, in her remembering song of rejoicing and thanksgiving, she acknowledges how God has looked favourably upon the lowliness of her situation.
In doing so, Mary is showing herself to be a spiritual warrior, with humility a key weapon in her armoury.
Like her ancestor David against Goliath, Mary is keenly aware that battles are won through a humble reliance on the Lord.
In her humility, Mary is showing her strength. Meekness is not weakness. Humility is not timidity. Spiritual warriors are people who have confidence rightly placed. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross, his resurrection, and his ongoing reign as King are the source of our confidence. We are in him, joined to him, united with him. That’s our strength.
When things get tough, spiritual warriors don’t soldier on resolutely, ignoring their circumstances. We don’t pretend we’re not facing temptation, fighting sin, the fear of death, and the intimidating tactics of the devil in our own strength.
We stick our hand up.
“Jesus, I need you!”
“Temptation, in the name of Jesus, I rebuke you. I send you to him. I can’t fight you on my own. See, my hand is up. You have to deal with Jesus now, not me. Go on, off you go.”
And they will.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 affirms that, in solely relying on Jesus, you have discovered the source of courage. God’s grace and favour are sufficient for you. His power is made perfect in your weakness. Because of your identity in Christ, when you are weak, you are strong!
In other words, yes! You can put your hand up!