Admittedly, we don’t think much about Joseph and Mary outside of the month of December, and when we do, they serve the story as supporting actors to the star who is swaddled in the manger. We don’t pay much attention to Joseph because we’re not certain of the significance he plays in the story. As for Mary, Baptist just plain get nervous about any conversations concerning her.
In Luke’s version of the incarnation, Mary receives an angelic visitation to announce the work of God through her. Luke 1:29 says that Mary was “confused and disturbed” about the announcement. Lisa pointed out in last weekend’s sermon that this description was, perhaps, an understatement. There were a lot of social implications that came with this divine request. To be the mother of the Messiah would have been a fair amount of pressure, not to mention the challenge of being a pregnant virgin who would have some explaining to do to her fiancé. The angelic visitation enabled her to trust God and obey him. Fortunately, Mary did have a relative she could turn to for support. She went to stay with Elizabeth, who was also pregnant at the time with a baby who we would later recognize as John the Baptizer.
The Gospel of Matthew reports Joseph’s point of view on the event. One can scarcely imagine the conversation between Mary and Joseph as she tried to explain the story of how she had become pregnant. The Bible says that Joseph was a good man, but this news from Mary became a deal breaker for him. He must have had a lot of conflicted emotions. Perhaps he was embarrassed and a little disappointed. He may have felt a violation of trust. Yet at the same time he was a compassionate man. As a Jew, he could have surrendered Mary to religious authorities and had her stoned to death in order to save face. But he didn’t. He determined to break the engagement privately and compassionately. We don’t know if Joseph talked to anyone about what happened, or even if he had a confidant available to him. But God came to him in a vision during his sleep and that visitation enabled Joseph to participate in God’s plan. He was able to trust and obey God.
God was the common denominator between Joseph and Mary. He was and is the ultimate unifier. God had providentially brought them together and would go to great lengths to keep them together. We need to remember that when we can’t trust our circumstances, we can always trust God.
We all have problems in our marriages. Some are easily resolved with humor. But what if our problems are bigger or ongoing? Some of our problems are from Satan, who wants to disrupt and destroy our homes (John 10:10). Some problems are permitted by God and are designed to build character and faith, as when Jesus sent the disciples across the lake in a boat knowing a storm was on the horizon (Matthew 14:22-33). We have problems like Mary and Joseph. Unfortunately, we don’t get angelic visitations or visions from God. Yet, we have to exercise trust and obedience. How do we cultivate and develop trust? Tomorrow I’ll offer five suggestions on how couples can cultivate trust in God that will help them weather the storms that come.