Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.Matthew 1:18-19
This week I spoke with a couple of friends I’ve known for more than twenty years. Although they’re both in the final years of their careers, they are both quite surprised and more than a little defeated in considering the turn of events over the last year or so as she has battled her health and he faced the challenges of tragic loss in his own life. The details are not important, but I wonder how many of us feel the same way at times.
Now, Imagine the life Joseph envisioned. He was engaged to Mary. He probably thought of the life they would have together. They would raise their children, build a successful life, and grow old together. But Joseph’s life would be turned upside down before it even started – it was discovered that Mary was pregnant.
We know the end of the story, but put yourself in Joseph’s place for a moment. Even without social meida, there was scandal, gossip, whispers, and looks around their small village of Nazareth. Would he be banished from the synagogue? What about the carpentry business? What about his parents and extended family?
Joseph has several options, none of which he had anticipated just weeks or days before. It was within his rights as a husband to publicly shame Mary. He could have her stoned according to the law of Moses, but even at his lowest moment, we are able to observe something deeper in Joseph. “Being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”
So, how do we respond when things don’t turn out the way we expected? When our plans go up in smoke?
Joseph’s life is an example. He was gracious and he took some time to consider his options and as we know from Scripture, he and Mary did bring up the Messiah.
So, the next time we’re tempted to react in the heat of the moment, let’s remember this Godly man’s reaction and make it our own.