It was an untimely and unlikely baby shower. Untimely, because neither of them should be pregnant. Unlikely, because neither of them could be pregnant. Yet, somehow, this providential rendezvous defies all assumptions. Although each occupies a separate end of the age continuum, their current sitz im leben binds them together with a miraculous cord that would not be broken.
Mary was probably between 13 and 16 years old. She was engaged to an older man, which was culturally customary at the time. It is likely that she would have become pregnant soon after marriage. Continuing the family line, primarily through sons, was a goal most families sought to meet. Had these preliminary procedures taken place in their expected order, Mary being 16 and pregnant wouldn't have been the village buzz. But, she is the talk of the town and she is a pregnant teen. What's the big deal? She's a virgin.
I love how Scripture respects her age. Instead of disclosing the exact count, we are only told that Elizabeth was "well along in years" (Luke 1:18). Put another way, she was old. Her role in the drama of life was nearing its end and she was preparing to exit stage left. She had earned each wrinkle and every grey hair. The wife of a priest, she modeled piety, poise, and patience for decades. She was the consummate woman. Yet, Elizabeth harbored an invisible void, 21 inches in length, 7.8 lbs in weight. Well beyond the minimum and maximum age of bearing children, Elizabeth was content to die, having never mothered a child. Or, so she thought. Surprise, surprise! Sister Elizabeth is pregnant.
Sometimes God chooses to operate in strange ways. His actions are often highly questionable and intensely illogical. On more than one occasion, you and I have wished we could personally advise God on His next big move, admonishing Him to be more sensible because we're more comfortable when God is more reasonable. Yet, time and again He agitates our rationale and disturbs our equilibrium by working in mysterious ways. He does this on purpose.
If you have never asked this question, then do as my grandmother counseled, "Keep living.” That is exactly what Elizabeth did, she kept living and that for a long time. Mary hadn't lived as long, but the same question applied to her. Why now? Both Elizabeth and Mary could have asked a second question pointing in two opposing directions. Why not then? For Mary, then pointed to the future. Why not later? For Elizabeth, then pointed to the past. Why not sooner? Why now?
The reason now was better than then for both Mary and Elizabeth is because "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). Can a virgin be pregnant? Not on her own. Can an old lady get pregnant? Not on her own. After asking that two-word question "Why now?", they shared a three-word testimony: God did this. We, too, will utter these words when we transition from questioning God's timing to affirming His wisdom and accepting His plan.