Learning to Wait : Lessons from the Blessed Virgin Mary
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
No one likes the idea of waiting.
We’ve been groomed to expect everything to come in an instant in so many aspects of life, that when we have to wait for anything we immediately become frustrated and angry.
However, in our spiritual walk with Christ, He often invites us to “wait” and to be in prayerful “anticipation” for the work He is doing in our lives.
The liturgical season of Advent can be seen as a training session for when we face times like this on the journey.
For example the season of singleness can feel like one such period of “waiting for God”.
Despite our best attempts, many of us single women experience feelings of frustration, anger and disappointment in this time of “waiting”.
For those of us who know that God has called them to marriage, this is particularly difficult.
There is a very special woman, at the heart of the Advent season who can teach us a thing or two about waiting well.
She said yes !
“And Mary said, Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.”
Looking at the example of the Blessed Virgin, we see that the first step to waiting well is to accept God’s invitation to wait, and to align our will with His.
It always fascinated me reading St. Luke’s Gospel that when Mary heard this wonderful news that she would be the Mother of the long awaited Saviour it did not take much explanation before she said yes.
Her yes was simple and sure.
She didn’t ask the angel, when it would happen, how she should tell Joseph, what she should do next etc etc
Mary’s yes was also not delusional, for she knew that saying yes to this meant saying yes to all the trials and tribulations that would come her way because of it.
In humility, she surrendered her will to God.
By surrendering her will she also knew it meant surrendering and accepting whatever would happen to her, which included, people’s opinions of her and even her hopes and dreams of becoming Joseph’s wife.
She knew she was saying yes to something greater and more important than herself.
By saying yes to your season of singleness, you are not preventing God from fulfilling your hopes and dreams.
Instead, if this is what He is calling you to at this moment you are making a way for Him to use you to do something greater than you could have ever dream of !
She went quickly to serve another!
Luke 1: 39-40, 56
“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.”
“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”
Mary did not stay at home obsessing about this great and wonderful thing that was to happen to her.
In her period of waiting, instead of being focused on herself she saw it as an opportunity to serve others!
In a beautiful article written on the Opus Dei website, “Life of Mary (VI): Visitation to Saint Elizabeth” the writer speaks about Mary's motivation for visiting Elizabeth,
“ She is not motivated by curiosity, nor does she make the journey to discover for herself whether the angel's message is true. Humble, filled with charity—a charity that leads her to be more concerned for her elderly cousin than for herself—Mary goes to the home of Elizabeth”
Often times, we find ourselves frustrated and angry with the season of life we are in, because we are too focused on our own desires, wants and dreams.
Taking the example of Mary a very important aspect of waiting well, is to ask the Lord who He may be calling us to serve in this time.
The same article speaks about the effect that Mary’s choice to serve, has on Elizabeth and her household.
“Mary rejoices with her cousin and promises to stay at her side. With Mary, God's grace enters that house, for he has made her his mediatrix.”
This is emphasized by Adrienne Von Speyr in her book Mary in the Redemption
“By going to visit Elizabeth, Mary acts as a mediatrix of God’s presence. Mary knows that there is “divine grace” within her and she journeys to “mediate this grace” to Elizabeth.”
Like Mary, when you say yes to whatever God wants for you and align your will with His, you are in an ideal state of openness to allow Him to use you to touch the lives of others.
She had hope!
“ Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
While you are “waiting on God” in what attitude do you wait ?
Are you waiting with a sense of despair and disbelief in His promises?
Elizabeth told Mary that she was blessed because she believed God would fulfill His promise.
Mary never doubted that God had the power to do what He promised to her.
Mary is a model of hope and faith in God.
Christopher O’Donnell writes about Mary as an Icon of Hope and explains the reason behind Mary’s hope.
“The main ground for her hope is the power and love, the mercy and fidelity of God.”
Mary had hope because she believed the truth about who God is.
Many times we don’t believe God can do what He promised us because we have a false image or belief of who God is in the first place.
When we challenge this belief and allow God to heal us from it, the grace to have hope like Mary did, comes much more easily.
She received confirmation from God!
Then Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."
Mary’s refusal to doubt God, was rewarded by confirmation from Elizabeth that God had truly done what the angel said He would do.
Bear in mind that at this stage of Mary’s pregnancy she would not have a “baby bump”, nor were there any sonograms for her to receive confirmation that she had in fact conceived Jesus in her womb.
God gave Mary something even better, by revealing to Elizabeth the Divine truth, that Mary was in fact the “Mother of her Lord”.
In this time of waiting, like Mary we must not doubt but continue to believe the promises of God and in His goodness He will reward our faith in extraordinary ways.
She praised God!
Luke 1: 46-49
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name."
After Elizabeth, praised Mary by calling her the Mother of her Lord, Mary in turn praises God knowing that God is the one who has done this great thing for her!
Though Mary’s time of waiting is not over and there can still be many reasons to have doubt, Mary chooses to focus her attention on the greatness of God.
When you think about what you are waiting for, whether it be your future spouse or to know what your vocation is, are you in the habit of praising God or complaining ?
The most important lesson we can learn from Mary is to praise God with gratitude for what He is doing and what He will do in our lives.
Your season of singleness isn’t a period of passive waiting.
Like Advent it is a season of preparation, growth and healing.
It is a time to cultivate hope and faith.
It is a time to develop charity and put it into practice everyday.
Most importantly it is the time of your life to say with Mary,