Needing support is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it can become an opportunity for the extended family to participate in your service to the nation
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:39–40)
A visit to grandparents and a special aunt and uncle became a retreat for my boys and me during my husband’s deployments and TDY (Temporary Duty) assignments. I would pack up our gear and we would head south. Often, the prescription to get through a month was the support and solace offered by family. When I needed help with my children, they offered extra hands. When I needed a spot to rest and recuperate from the frenetic activity of my community, they offered space. When I needed to be reminded of my place in the family, they offered roots. When I missed my husband, they offered comfort.
Scripture does not tell us why Mary chose to visit Elizabeth. We know the angel informed Mary that Elizabeth was pregnant. Such news had to get Mary’s attention because the description of Elizabeth in Luke 1 was that she was barren and “advanced in years.” Mary knew she was not the only one experiencing a miracle!
Even with such knowledge, I wonder if Mary worried whether Elizabeth might send her home when she saw Mary’s condition. Or did she know Elizabeth and Zechariah would offer her the support and needed space to process what was happening? Fortunately, Elizabeth’s welcome was without question. Upon hearing Mary’s greeting Elizabeth spoke the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” You can almost hear Mary’s sigh of relief. As an unmarried pregnant woman, she could have been stoned, or at least disgraced, but Elizabeth offered blessing.
Notice that Mary did not go to Elizabeth with whines, sighs, and commiseration. She did not visit her family to hide from ridicule or escape responsibility. Mary expressed the joy of knowing she was helping to fulfill God’s plan for the world. No doubt she and Elizabeth shared their questions, discomforts, and amazement as confidantes and participants in a “mysterious mission.”1
There are times when you need support from your extended family. During a deployment, or when a service member is unavailable, can be an appropriate time to look to family members for help. Needing support is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it can become an opportunity for the extended family to participate in your service to the nation.
God was working in Elizabeth in a special way that provided mutual encouragement and support for her and Mary. God can work in your extended family during a period to encourage and offer practical help for you as well.
How has your extended family supported your military family? Perhaps your family cannot be relied upon for support. How have you reached out to create a surrogate extended family?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, thank you for friends and family who are willing to help in times of need. I am grateful for people who love and care for me and my family. Show me ways I can be a help and blessing to them as well. Amen.
1 Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. Evans, The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary (Downers Grove, ILL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 564.