With the exception of Baby Jesus, no one in the Christmas story fascinates me more than Joseph. His understandable dismay when he discovered his fiancé was with child is well known. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes. He and Mary were engaged, were committed to sexual purity and were anticipating their wedding eagerly. Then the awaited joy becomes agony. Joseph discovered Mary was expecting.
Mary’s pregnancy could only be explained by assuming she had been unfaithful to him. The consequences were horrendous for such unfaithfulness. The Egyptians of Joseph’s day cut off adulteresses noses. Persians cut off both their ears and noses. In Judea, the more severe consequence was death. Despite Joseph’s deep disappointment, dashed dreams and broken heart stirring him to act quickly; he waited. Instead of immediately giving Mary what she deserved he looked for a way to be grace-full so Mary would not be dis-graced. He did not want to hurt Mary even though she had betrayed him in the worst way.
While he was trying to figure a way out, a grace way, God showed up. Whew! In a dream Joseph was told the child Mary was going to birth was the long awaited Messiah. He was told the pregnancy was Spirit conceived not the result of some dark, shameful liaison. He was also told to name the child Jesus meaning “God Saves.” Joseph waited; God saved.
Recovery requires grace. To heal we need the grace of God, we need to give grace to others, we need to receive grace from others and we need to give ourselves grace. God provides a way to be gracious if we want the best even for those who hurt us and we are willing to wait. Heroes do what is best for those they love. Heroes appropriately carry their own pain to diminish the pain of others. Heroes wait on God instead of acting on impulse. Heroes do not diminish what is real but trust God to be the ultimate reality. Heroes look for another way out when there is no apparent way out. Not much is recorded about this noble man Joseph but there is enough for me to know I long to be like him.