Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's in a Name?

Mary.

This is her season!  Of all the seasons of the year, this is the one where we remember the girl from Nazareth and her sacrifice.  She is extra special to me because I share her name.

A couple of years ago I was challenged to dig into the real meaning of my name because names are more important than we realize.

For example, I have an acquaintance whose parents named her Sarah because it means "God's Princess."  Sarah grew up to adopt children from Russia, South America and Africa.  One day as she and her girls were reading from Genesis, they came to the passage in which God changed Sarai's name to Sarah, promising that she would become the mother of many nations.  As she read the words, her oldest squealed, "Mommy, that's you!"  Her parents didn't know what her future would hold when they named her, but God did.

During the same challenge, a dear friend of mine researched her name and found that combined together, the three parts of her name mean strong, fair warrior--and she is!

Imagine, then, my delight when my research revealed that Mary means "Sea of Bitterness."

Sea of Bitterness.

How's that for a name?

The Mother of Jesus was named "Sea of Bitterness."  Really? 

Bitterness?

This is the woman who, when told she was "chosen" to bear God's Son (no pressure there!) amidst scandal and great risk, she responded with a song of praise, declaring "blessed am I above all women."

If that isn't sweet, I don't know what is!

Oh....
 I think I get it.

Perhaps the key is that although Mary's circumstances were bitter, she did not drown in a Sea of Bitterness because she chose praise instead.

Exodus 15 contains a biblical account of a REAL sea of bitterness, "Marah."

After the great Red Sea miracle, Moses led the Israelites into the desert of Shur.  For three days they went without water.  It was a pretty thirsty mob that arrived at the oasis of Marah, only to find the water too bitter to drink.

Moses faced a very cranky throng.

Wisely, he cried out to God for help.  The Lord showed Moses a piece of wood, which Moses threw into the water and (I love this part) the water became sweet.  My Bible says it was "good to drink."

Sweet.

Like Mary of Nazareth, I may encounter extremely bitter circumstances in my life.  I can grumble and complain like the Israelites and have only bitterness to drink, or, like Moses I can cry out to God.

I believe that Mary provides a beautiful picture of the "wood" God shows me to toss into the bitter water of circumstance.

Trust.  

"I am the Lord's Servant....May your word to me be fulfilled." (Luke 1:28)

Praise.

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.
 (Luke 1:46-49)

If I trust that He is always good,

If I praise Him for His attributes and His gifts,

Then the water of my circumstances will become sweet

good to drink

life giving.

THAT is what's in my name.  I love it. 





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