18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
As I read this passage of Scripture, I am struck by Joseph’s faith. Upon the angel appearing to him in a dream, he obeyed the Lord, but to have continued to have obeyed over those long 9 months must have been very much a faith walk for both he and Mary. Plainly, they had “evidence” before them that something amazing had happened – Mary’s growing belly. But I wonder how many times in that 9 months that Joseph had second thoughts or how often he questioned whether he had really heard from God. I don’t imagine that there was a lot of family support for either of them – in fact their parents are not mentioned. I’m sure friends and relatives were aghast at what had “apparently” happened – except for Elizabeth & Zechariah. Pregnancy during betrothal was an absolute no-no, so I imagine that there were many times when Joseph and Mary felt that it was “them against the world”. And yet, they stayed true to what God had called them to do.
How often do we hear something from God that appears absolutely crazy, that calls us on a faith-walk that we have never experienced before? How often do our friends and family not understand? May we take courage from Joseph’s example of a man who, despite the weirdest of circumstances, chose to believe and obey God.
Lord, may I always have the courage to make those faith walks when you call me to make them. And may you place around me at least one “believing” person, just like Mary and Joseph had in Elizabeth.
Written by Ps. Jen Irving