Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Mary’s Story

As we head into the final week before Christmas, we expectantly anticipate the coming—the Advent—of the Son of the Most High as his mother, Mary, did. Consider with me the traditional Advent themes as seen in Mary’s story.


“Listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

—the angel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth (LUKE 1:31-33)

The Bible defines hope as patiently or eagerly waiting for what we do not yet have or see (Romans 8:25). Mary not only waited nine months for the fulfillment of the angel’s promise—the birth of her son—but also to be physically intimate with her husband Joseph, for her son to begin his ministry, for people to realize he was great, for his kingdom to come on earth.

We wait every day for small things like the dryer cycle to complete, our turn in the check-out line, and the weekend. In this particular season, we wait for wars to end and hostages to be released. And we wait for far-off things like a cure for cancer and the second Advent of Jesus.

I’m not sure how patiently or eagerly Mary accomplished her waiting. But I do know that she believed. I think Mary exercised hope when she “believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45). Hope is intricately intertwined with belief. Ponder that!

In Mary’s waiting our hope is found. As predicted, her son arrived on time. He is still great and he continues to reign.


Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!

—the angels to the shepherds (LUKE 2:14)

Every December we sing these words. But there doesn’t seem to be much peace this year. Festive music, twinkling lights, and undeserved gifts do bring a few feelings of goodwill and merriment. They can also produce a facade of cheer and fleeting happiness.

But the kind of peace (eirene in Greek) that the angels spoke of to the shepherds is the way that leads to salvation—true peace with God.

Zechariah—who also got a message from an angel—said that Jesus came to “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).

After receiving the angel’s message, the Shepherds hurried off to find the newborn baby and so of course, met Mary and Jospeh. When they recounted the story to Mary, she “treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean” (Luke 2:19). She was unaware how pierced her heart would be over the next thirty-three years. The peace her baby son would bring had nothing to do with tranquility and warm fuzzy feelings.


For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

—Elizabeth to Mary (LUKE 1:44)

After the angel, Gabriel, told Mary she would give birth to the Savior, Mary set off to tell Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her unborn baby jumped for joy and Elizabeth responded by blessing or speaking well of Mary. Mary in turn praised God by saying, “my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47).

When John the Baptist was born to a childless elderly couple (Elizabeth and Zechariah), their neighbors rejoiced in this occasion for gladness (Luke 1:58).

The shepherds responded to the announcement of the birth of the Messiah with joy and hurried off to find the baby (Luke 2:16), spread the word of his birth (Luke 2:17) and praised and glorified God for all the the things they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20).

Even the wisemen responded with joy when they saw the star of the king of the Jews rest above the place were Jesus lay (Matthew 2:10).

In Scripture, joy is our response to good news—especially the gospel—which results in praising God. But joy is also our response to trials (James 1:2) and Jesus’s response to the cross (Hebrews 12:2).


We do not find the word love (agape in Greek) directly in any of the narratives describing the birth of Jesus Christ. However, we know that love envelopes Christmas because other passages tell us:

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life…By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him.

John 3:16, 1 John 4:9

Agape is sacrificial love—the Father God allowing Jesus to leave his presence and become human, giving up his son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

But we also find love in Mary as a mother. She risked the scoffing and ridicule of others, changed her life trajectory, and endured hours of labor to birth the Savior. As she held the newborn in her arms she must have been filled with love for him—love that would sacrifice and do anything to keep him safe, to raise him well, and help them fulfill his mission.

May your Advent season be filled with hope in the very One you wait for. May you, like Mary, ponder the true meaning of peace. May you respond with joy and praises to God in both good and troubling times. And may you know and feel God’s sacrificial love for you as you celebrate Jesus’s birth.

This piece was first published on my personal blog, Pondered Treasures, December 20, 2020.

For more on Mary’s story, see Favored Blessed Pierced: A Fresh Look at Mary of Nazareth available on Amazon.

Eva has been teaching and mentoring women for over thirty-five years. Her experience as a missionary kid in Papua New Guinea, cross-cultural worker in Indonesia, women’s ministry director, and Bible College adjunct professor adds a global dimension to her study of Scripture and the stories she tells. Through her blog, Pondered Treasures, and her book, Favored Blessed Pierced: A Fresh Look at Mary of Nazareth, Eva invites readers to slow down, reflect, and practically apply God’s word to life. Currently she and her husband live in Richardson, Texas and promote the well-being of global workers in a church planting mission agency. A graduate of Baylor University, she also has a Master of Christian Education from Columbia International University in Columbia, S.C. Crafting (specifically macramé) and spending time with her two sons and a daughter-in-law rejuvenates her soul.

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