Advent Cries and Sings: May it Be

Leonardo Da Vinci--The Annunciation
Leonardo Da Vinci–The Annunciation

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be as you have said.”
Luke 1: 38

We want it to be the way we want it: our plans, our timing, our hopes and dreams first and foremost.
And then life happens and suddenly nothing looks the way it was supposed to be. How are we to respond?

In my work in a University Health Center, I see in young adults a tremendous lack of resiliency, an inability to ride the waves that crash and overwhelm. One of the most common responses to the unexpected is to panic, facing uncontrollable anxiety that interferes with eating, sleeping, working, studying. A common response to anxiety is to self medicate in any way easily accessible: alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, sex, a friend’s prescription drugs. A little isn’t working so a lot might be better. The anxiety is compounded and becomes deepening depression.

The sadness and hopelessness, even anger –is a discouragement stemming from the lack of control of circumstances, feeling there is no way out, being unable to find another path to a different future. This leads too frequently to thoughts of ending one’s life as it seems too painful and pointless to continue, and thankfully more rarely, taking others’ lives at the same time in an attempt to make sure everyone else knows the depth of the pain.

There is an epidemic of hopelessness among our society’s young people that I’ve never before seen to this extent in my thirty years of clinical work. To them, their debts seem too great, their reserves too limited, their foundations too shaky, their hope nonexistent, their future too dim. They cannot ride the waves without feeling they are drowning. So they look for any way out.

In the annunciation of the angel approaching a young woman out of the blue, Mary’s response to this overwhelming circumstance is a model for us all when we are hit by a wave we didn’t expect and had not prepared for.

She is prepared; she has studied and knows God’s Word and His promise to His people. She is able to articulate it beautifully in the song she sings as her response. She gives up her so carefully planned life to give life to God within her.

Her resilience sings through the ages: may it be to me as you say.

May it be.
Your plans, Your purpose, Your promise.
Let it be.
Even if it may pierce my soul as with a sword.
You are there to plug the bleeding hole.

And I will sing through my tears.

4 thoughts on “Advent Cries and Sings: May it Be

  1. Gratitude… it seems to be in short supply among many today. Youth, and many adults alike, expect to have their glass in life joyously full at all times. Mary “gives up”… she “lets go”… rare behavior then; rare behavior today. Our letting go may be the only way His “will can be done on earth as it is in heaven…”


  2. I completely agree with you that I have never seen such pessimism and hopelessness. I see it in my own youngest son. I fear for them. You have good advice, Emily.


  3. I have seen this and I know this and in part, I’m living it. As a parent, I’m constantly asking God how to cultivate resilience in my children. And one of the keys is not to give them everything they want, to help them learn how to ride the small waves of pain and frustration and not trying to fix everything in their lives. There’s a balance, but one we need to be very careful with. We cannot overcompensate.

    I’ve been meditating on the story of Lazarus – and in particular the four days that he was dead. Jesus could have gone earlier and healed him and those sisters and friends wouldn’t have suffered for four days. And in all honesty, I think holy moly God! It’s hard to suffer. But God wanted to do something bigger and for him to do the bigger – there would be more tears …

    Thanks for this. Yielding, giving in, letting go and letting God, surrendering my life to the Almighty always comes before the peace and joy, the resurrection life that he has to give. He won’t compete. He will be God. And at the end of the day – what so many must learn in our culture, that doesn’t seem to be a problem in other cultures – is the simple truth that it’s not really ever been about being happy. God isn’t interested in me being happy. He wants to give so much more than happiness… He wants to give me life.


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