By Charlotte Gleason
When you think of the word “song,” you probably do not think of sorrow. You might think of a sunny day. You might think of a whistling gentleman jumping and clicking his heels. But we have all heard songs of sorrow: the “my-girl-left-me” country song, the deathbed aria, or the laments of David.
Poetry set to music, a song captures an emotion and surrounds it with chords. A song seems to imply something beautiful, even if it is tragic. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of songs in my heart that are not very pretty. In fact, I often don’t feel like singing.
One of the most loved songs in scripture is Mary’s Magnificat. In Luke 1, Mary breaks into song after she visits with Elizabeth. She starts by exclaiming, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1: 46). Her song only crescendos. She sings of God’s blessings, His attention to the humble, and His continued presence in the lives of the Israelites.
We expect Mary to be singing. After all, Gabriel addressed her as “O favored one” (Luke 1: 28). God chose her to mother His beloved son. We must not forget Mary’s circumstances. This 14-year-old virgin may not have wanted to sing when she considered the scandal. She may not have wanted to sing when she considered Joseph’s reaction. By the time she reached Elizabeth, I am sure the Nazarene rumor mill gave her little to celebrate. But she does sing. Mary accepts the honor and focuses on what she does know about God.
In C.H. Spurgeon’s 1875 sermon on Mary’s Magnificat, he notes “that even before there was an accomplishment of the things that were told her by the angel, she could sing, ‘My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.’ Unbelief would have said, ‘Wait.’ Fear would have said, ‘Be silent.’” Mary did not withhold the song in her heart. She focused on the assurance of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of uncertainty.
I spend a good part of my life waiting to celebrate or thank God for answering prayers. Honestly, this world takes the music out of most days. But God gave us an entire book of promises, an entire book about His love for us. I wonder how my life would change if I could sing with Mary’s faith. I wonder how my life would change if I could sing about what I can’t see, but what I know will be accomplished.