Joseph, Christmas, and the Christian Life

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21

Have you ever committed yourself to follow the Lord, only to run into a surprising roadblock?

Have you ever committed yourself to follow the Lord, worked through the surprising roadblock with biblical wisdom, and then have yet another surprising twist from God?

So did Joseph. Yeah, that Joseph. Not the one with the colorful coat and the jealous brothers. The one who was Jesus’ dad. That Joseph.

Joseph was a righteous man. Did everything “by the book.” Engaged to a righteous woman. Hopeful for a beautiful Jewish marriage and family. Joseph walked with God. Then he learned that his wife was pregnant. He knew he had nothing to do with it. So, after what must have been hours of agonizing hurt and wisdom seeking, he did what he thought was the right and godly thing to do: divorce Mary quietly, so as to preserve her reputation as much as possible. It was then – THEN – the Lord revealed His plan to Joseph.

Joseph walked with God and had high hopes for a godly marriage and family.

Joseph learned unbearable news and did what he believed to be in the best interest of everyone – including God – and planned to get out of the marriage.

THEN God made His plan known.

Expectations. Obedience. Roadblocks. Wisdom. Agony. Plans. Godly counsel. Revelation. Surprise. The unexpected.

Part of me wants to get angry at God and ask Him why in the world did He not make this known to Joseph before he agonized over the news and the decision to divorce Mary? Why wait until after, what had to have been a horrific few days for Joseph? Why not reveal to both Joseph and Mary the plan – at the same time – together? Why force Joseph to endure all of the heartache, pain, seeking, evaluating, etc.?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that this is a picture of the Christian life. There are times when we don’t know the best course of action. We must agonize and seek and gather and make a godly decision. There are also times when God makes His plans specifically and clearly known. When, how, where, and why . . . well, that’s for the good Father to work out.

One thing is sure, however. There is a really big take-away here. When we don’t know what to do or why things are happening, doing our best to align with God’s will – even when it hurts – is wisdom. It is the Christian life. Doing so may not guarantee hearing clearly from the Lord. But it sure does put you in a much better position to do so if/when He chooses to bring clarity.

What surprising roadblock has He put in front of you? Where are you getting your direction and wisdom and insight from? Until further notice, seek godliness and righteousness, doing everything you can out of love. He may make it plain. He may not. But you are putting yourself in the best position to hear clearly from the loving One behind the scenes.

Trust and Obey. For there’s no other way. . .