Look beyond your expectations I don’t mean expect more. I mean allow your expectations to be redefined. If your circle of friends hasn’t grown in its experience diversity since high school, then you probably haven’t grown emotionally or spiritually. There are two types of friends that we can find when we look beyond the character descriptions we created for our own little world. One is an ally who has experienced and understands your particular challenge – not the type thtat understands the challenge from shared viewership and experience that allows each of you to wallow in the emotional stench that allows seems to accompany challenges – notice how I continually use the word challenge. Not Problems! Not victimization! Not failure! The word challenge always denotes opportunity for success, hope in good things! Mary and Elizabeth were allies who understood what was happening in their lives. How many people understood Mary’s situation? Was there any girl her age in her village she could pour her heart out to without either being stoned to death or ridiculed for such outrageous tales? Supposedly, she was such an outcast that when she and Joseph left to go to Bethleham for the census, they traveled alone. Even her mother had abandoned her in her hour of need.
Yet the Lord provided an ally, a companion, a friend who understood and believed what the Lord had told her. Why? Because she had a similar experience. Do you think Mary would have sought her out if the angel of the Lord had not told her, “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God”(Luke 1:36,37). Elizabeth was much older than Mary. Most likely, Mary would not have sought Elizabeth out if the angel had not told her. We tend to seek out people we think are like ourselves, and miss the Lord’s companion. Mary heeded the angel. How hungry she must have been to share her burden with someone who could understand. “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country”(Luke 1:39). Elizabeth welcomed Mary, honored her. God’s guide will welcome your companionship. The guide the Lord has sent into your life will not have to “fit you in” or make you feel like a charity case. Yet, keep in mind that Mary hurried to met her, and then she greeted her first. You cannot wait for this person to come into your home, sit down, and comfort you. You must prepare your heart through prayer (Mary got ready), move out of your comfort zone of friends (Mary left her town and hurried to a town in the hill country), and then introduce yourself (Mary greeted Elizabeth). Mary could not have known Elizabeth would have received her so warmly, but she took the chance. You need to take that chance, too.
The benefits of fellowship with God’s companion spiritual blessings. When the two women got together, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. They were bold about the Lord’s place in their lives. Then, so wonderfully, so simply, Elizabeth encouraged Mary saying, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”(Luke 1: 45). Mary probably needed someone to tell her she was not crazy, that what happened was real. Who could better understand the condition of Mary’s heart and mind that a woman who had been barren all her life and probably condemned for it? Mary was pregnant and was condemned for it. Yet, here was somebody who understood the power and might of the great I AM.
Mary’s Song is evidence of her belief that God provided peace in a very difficult situation: “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”(Luke 1:46-48). These two women’s shared common experience enabled them to comfort each other.
Find friends who lift you up when you’re down. Comfort comes with encouraging words, not discouraging words. Surround yourself with people who talk about overcoming the challenging, not the stench that created the challenge. Redfine the expectations of your support group. Make sure they support!