Loved by God, engaged, pure, and living in a culture that if a woman was caught in adultery, she would be stoned to death …
Luke 1: 26-31, 34-35, 37-38
“… God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin to be pledged and married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus… “How can this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin? The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God… For nothing is impossible with God. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel of the Lord left her.
I find it very comforting that the mother of Jesus, even after the angel told her not to be afraid and highly favored because the Lord was with her, still felt greatly troubled and wondered at his words. It is obvious that Mary was a young woman of great faith, a woman after God’s own heart, and yet she experienced what all of us experience (and often don’t share) ~ fear and wondering, troubling and anxious thoughts. Comforting? yes! Why? Because I’m not alone when I experience the same daunting fears or anxious thoughts.
And then there is Joseph, and how would Mary tell him that she is pregnant, but a virgin. Would he understand? Mary must have pondered her previous conversation and response to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant” ~ “May it be to me as you have said.” Wow! What an act of faith and surrender! And now to be tested, learn to persevere, and trust in the unseen. Talk about experiencing anxious thoughts when life as you knew it begins to unravel.
How do you think Joseph felt once he heard the news that Mary was pregnant, knowing that he and Mary had not engaged in sexual intercourse. So, Joseph ponders how could this happen, and assumed it must have been another man’s child. Being a righteous man who didn’t want to go against God’s laws, and did not want a public divorce, and a man still filled with compassion for Mary, he did not want to expose her to public disgrace ~ possible death by stoning ~ he felt he needed to break the engagement and divorce her quietly. Joseph, a man of deep conviction, faith, and character thought to marry her would have been an admission of guilt. Tempted to believe that Mary had been unfaithful (and wouldn’t you come to the same conclusion if given the same set of circumstances) ~ God steps in and alleviates the doubt. He sends one of his messengers to calm his anxious, troubling thoughts and dispels the fear, to set things right in Joseph’s mind, heart and dealings with Mary.
But after he 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. 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… When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home to be his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1: 20-21, 24-25.
Isn’t God faithful to supply grace in a time of desperate need! Of course! God intervened on behalf of Joseph and Mary and revealed to both of them in a way they could understand the significance of this supernatural event in order to give them strength to endure and trust in the unseen plan of God. It is the same with us when we face what we believe to be an unbelievable, impossible situation. Or, have been dealt a set of circumstances that appear unredeemable.
If you are a believer in Christ ~ it is a comfort to know that we are loved by God and even in the midst of unexplainable life experiences, he will never allow us to tread down a path that first has been filtered through his hands of love. We may not fully understand, but we can trust His heart and plan is for good!
Loved by God, in Jesus, we have his footprint upon our soul.
Photo: Nancy Byrne ~ Les Cayes, Haiti ~ February 2010