Sunday, December 9, 2007


After Mary had told Joseph her news, he was considering quietly divorcing her. Yet, Matthew tells us that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him to take Mary for his wife. The angel confirmed Mary’s story. Joseph "did as the Angel of the Lord had bidden him". He, too, trusted and obeyed. I think this tells us a lot about Joseph. Joseph is probably one of the most overlooked characters in the Bible. But Joseph was chosen just as much as Mary was. He was going to be Jesus’ earthly father. He would be the one to care for Mary during her pregnancy. He would be the one to provide and care for Jesus as he grew, to teach Him the scriptures, to take Him to synagogue. His role was an important one, too. The Angel also told Joseph not to consummate the marriage until after the child was born, but to "take her as his wife’. So the marriage was completed except for the consummation. He, too, would have had to tell his family, explaining to them why things were different. Scripture does not tell us how they reacted, but it does tell us that Joseph was obedient and that is what is important.

Doing things God’s way is not always easy. Often we face conflicts, unkind comments, ridicule and sometimes are ostracized by both family and friends. Facing that from strangers is one thing, facing it from family and friends is another story.

In our recent Bible study on the Friendships of Women, we looked at Mary and Elizabeth's relationship. I realized for the first time how precious God was to bring these two women together at a point of great need in BOTH of their lives! Elizabeth was experiencing her own miracle after waiting many years to have a child, only to finally be resolved that she would never bear a child. Such unimaginable joy....yet no one to share it with because her husband could not speak a word! Now every woman knows how much she needs to be able to discuss the upcoming birth of her child----after all, a joy shared is a joy doubled!

Then Mary, suddenly with child by none other than the Holy Spirit of God Himself, shows up on Elizabeth's doorstep!! Talk about needing someone to talk to!!!!!!!!! Can you imagine all that MARY had to discuss with Elizabeth! WOW! For three months she resided with this older cousin, seeing her in the last stages of her pregnancy and probably even being there for the birth itself. God used that time, no doubt, to prepare Mary for what was ahead for her. God is so personal. He knows just what we need and provides for every need...even down to giving us someone to share our hearts with.

Once Mary was back home, she and Joseph did not run away or hide. They obeyed. They went about their daily life as they awaited the birth of this baby. And when the government said they had to go to Bethlehem, some 90 miles away, to be counted for the census, they also did what was required of them. They also obeyed the law. They were poor. They traveled by donkey. There is no indication that they had servants travelling with them to help them or to run ahead and make provision for them.

When they came to Bethlehem, they were alone, searching for a place to spend the night. They had no family with them for support or comfort. Don’t you know that Joseph must have been thinking "God, if you wanted your child to be born, why in a place like this? Why didn’t you provide a nice place for the event to take place and a midwife to help?" Don’t you know that he wondered if something were wrong, if he had missed a sign, or was he possibly expecting angels to descend and bring the baby into the world in some miraculous way? I’m sure giving birth in a smelly stable amongst the donkeys, sheep and goats was not the way either of them imagined it. Yet God was still in control!

Often when we follow God, we do not know how He will bring about His plan. Nothing seems to go as WE imagined. It’s just not how we thought it would be. Yet, we must still continue to trust and obey.

As you contemplate that thought, I would like to leave you with a song that has meant a lot to me, that echoes every heart that has ever been in a difficult place, a pit, or circumstances that did not make sense, and yet has learned we must keep trusting….

Casting Crowns - Praise You In This Storm
From the album Lifesong

I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away--
Stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say "Amen", and it’s still raining.
As the thunder rolls,
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I’m with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

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