My pastor has been preaching a sermon series on Joseph. His words reminded me of a message I wrote last year about the faithful stepfather of Jesus. Since I spoke of Mary last week, it seems only fitting to give equal consideration to how Joseph dealt with his divine assignment.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
Luke 2:4 – NIV
Let’s ponder on Joseph for a moment this morning. In my mind’s eye, I can see his weary figure approaching the inn on that dark, chilly night, the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Can you see his hand clenched in a tight fist, preparing to knock on the innkeeper’s door? It had been such a long and grueling journey. The trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem would be an arduous one anytime, covering all those miles on foot, navigating rough terrain, braving the elements. Yes, a difficult journey, no doubt. But wait. Just consider the added dilemma of a young wife, just days away from delivering her first child.
Joseph had no choice, but to make the journey. The government decree must be followed, the taxes paid. Yet, the timing could not have been worse. Instead of Mary delivering her newborn surrounded by her mother and a midwife, they found themselves out on a dark, chilly night in a strange town looking for shelter. Instead of the nurture and experience of a female support system to see Mary through the labor and delivery, he was going to be her helper and he had no idea what to do.
But first things first, he must find a safe place for his espoused wife to rest. With bone deep weariness and fervent hope in his heart, Joseph knocks on the innkeeper’s door.
Imagine the sinking feeling in Joseph’s soul when the innkeeper explained there was no room in the inn. His heart must have skipped a beat, perhaps more than one. His hands must have trembled, his mind racing with panic. “Now what are we going to do?”
Have you ever felt that sinking feeling of panic? Have you felt the tremor in your hands, the grip of fear in your heart? Have you heard yourself ask that desperate question, “Now what are we going to do?”
Life does not follow the blueprint of our best laid plans, does it? Just when we think we have it all figured out, the curveballs come. The destination is set in the GPS. We are on route and on time, only to find a delay ahead. A detour is required. We did not plan for this. We don’t have time for this. We don’t like it. Nonetheless, the GPS is recalculating and we are on a new and undetermined course.
Yet, Joseph did not stand alone at the doorway. God stood by his side, strengthening him for the news that came with the knock. God knew the plan, even if Joseph didn’t. When Joseph was crestfallen to consider his petite and very pregnant wife residing in a stable, God was not fretting. What seemed like a devastating disappointment was actually just what God had in mind to make that night miraculous.
You see, God can take our heartache, our disappointments, our ruined plans and work miracles with them. He can use the desperate circumstances of our lives to teach us to trust Him more. He can take a lowly manger and make it a nursery for the Divine. With God, all things are possible.
Whatever trials you may be facing today, remember that God stands with you and He is preparing a way for you. Place your trust in Him today and He will make your rough places smooth.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:27 – NIV
O God of Grace and Mercy, meet us where we stand today. See us through our struggles. Strengthen us for the journey that lies ahead. Help us find our shelter in You, that we might know Your hope and feel Your peace.