The angel Gabriel is having a conversation with Mary. He has just appeared and told her she is highly favored by God and that the Lord is with her. The angel continues by telling her not to fear for she has found favor with God. I had always taken this to mean that being favored by God is a reason not to fear. Now as I think about it, I suspect the angel is saying the opposite: Do not be afraid even though you have found favor with God, because what I’m about to tell you is going to scare you to no end!
Mary was about to face a big change: motherhood. As if that wasn’t enough, the expectations piled upon her child were set pretty high. She wasn’t going to be the mother of a son but of a king, the heir to the throne of David, reigning over a kingdom that will never end.
I think about other characters in the Bible who were favored by God for some important task. Abraham left his homeland. Moses confronted the pharaoh. Esther challenged the king. The disciples followed Jesus. These are all reasons to be afraid as they took each of them out of the known and into the unknown. God asking you to do something likely is going to mean change, and change can be a scary proposition.
The world thinks of being favored as having an important job and a big house, having the good life. Even some Christians seem to confuse material blessings with God’s favor. But God’s favor means something quite different. It means God trusting you to do something for the Kingdom. How has God favored you?