Joseph was betrothed to a lovely godly young girl. Then he received some earthshaking news: she was found to be pregnant! Since Joseph “was faithful to the law,” he dutifully planned to “divorce” her – i.e. end the commitment to live the rest of their lives together. Thoughtfully, he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” But an angel came to him and told him what was happening, that it was all part of God’s plan. He was convinced to stay in the relationship with Mary. “Convinced” is a strong word, yet it does describe Joseph’s change of heart toward this whole situation. The baby was born, as the angel had told Joseph. They called his name Jesus, as the angel told them to do. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (from Matthew 1:18-25)
This is Joseph’s side of the Christmas story. He was in love, stunned, disappointed and ashamed, decisive, committed to God’s rule of law but still careful to not cause undue pain for anyone else. Then he was met by God’s appointed messenger, the angel. After that, he obeyed what he knew even if he didn’t know everything he wanted to know. He obeyed what he did know – he kept Mary as his wife and he named the baby boy Jesus. “He did what the angel… had commanded.”
Dads, there are several parallels with your experience here. You loved your child and your wife too. You were stunned by some news about your child’s diagnosis or about an accident or about his unexpected death. You’ve probably been disappointed in … maybe many things or people, maybe God too. You may have tried to be a godly man, never wanting to cause undue pain, to be faithful to the people God has called you to, such as your wife and kids. For Joseph, there were things he didn’t really understand – the pregnancy? God’s purpose? Why him and Mary? Maybe for you too, there are things you don’t quite understand.
Joseph had a visit from an angel and trusted God. Then He did what he knew to do, obey what he’d been told. What about you? Most of you haven’t had an actual visit from an angel, but you do have something very important: the Word of God. Like the angel, it carries a message to you. It says God loves you, is present with you, helps you, has a plan for good for you in His kingdom. Can you trust God? He is worthy of trust, so trust Him. Do what you know now to do, whatever that is. Follow Him. You may not know the whole story, but you know enough to do what you’ve been instructed. Just a few of the general commands: trust, obey, be faithful to one wife, rejoice in all circumstances, consider trials gifts from God, pray without ceasing.
You don’t know the whole story or how all the pieces fit together, but you do know God loves you and loves your child. You do know God has a plan in motion to redeem His people and His purpose and that you fit into all that. You do know God promises to be present with you through the toughest places in life, like this one. Be encouraged to do what you know and have been commanded to do. It worked for Joseph. The same God is at work in your life too.