Thoughts on Christmas this year…and a peak at our Christmas Photos.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had 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.” Matthew 1:18-20
I’ve read those verses in Matthew numerous times but I have never given much thought to Joseph in this story. Jesus and Mary have always been the focal point, but this Christmas I marvel in consideration of Joseph. “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But AFTER he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream”. Did you catch that? An angel of the Lord appeared to him AFTER he had considered divorcing Mary. Why in the world wouldn’t God choose to reveal His plan to Joseph BEFORE? Wouldn’t you think it would be much easier on Joseph to have an angel come and explain all of this BEFORE he finds out his future wife is pregnant with a baby that isn’t his!?? Oh, Joseph… Prior to the coming of the angel, I can’t imagine how many nights he lay awake questioning and wondering…. why?
I envision he had prayed for Mary to be his wife and dreamed of their future life together. I picture Mary giving Joseph butterflies when she walked into a room. He probably thought she was absolutely perfect and beautiful in every way. Their families most likely knew each other well. Joseph had his life perfectly mapped out, and then……. Mary became pregnant & the baby wasn’t his!? I see Joseph crying out, “What is all this God? I was so sure Mary was the one for me! When I prayed, I had no doubt this was what you had planned. This is the desire of my heart! What is going on?? I was so convinced you had led me in this direction, Lord. Why did you take me all the way here if this isn’t right? What did I do to deserve this? I’m a good man! Why did you leave me here, God? WHY?“
Long, sleepless nights and endless, lonely days consumed Joseph. I can imagine he didn’t want to confide in family or friends, as this situation would be an embarrassment and public disgrace. God must have been his closest companion and dearest friend during this time. Maybe Joseph lay awake at night staring at the ceiling, pouring his broken heart out to the Lord. Maybe he was at the foot of his bed, sweating through prayer on his knees. Maybe he spent a few nights cursing God, so incredibly angry and feeling he was led to a dead end road, stranded without direction.
God let Joseph go through these agonizing emotions and overwhelming doubts. God chose to reveal His plan to Joseph not before all of those sleepless nights, but after. Why? That question isn’t answered in these verses, but maybe Joseph’s heart wasn’t quite ready to embark on the divine journey ahead of him. Maybe Joseph needed those nights where he lay awake, talking to God endlessly throughout the night. Maybe Joseph needed to learn to go to God first, before anyone else, with his frustrations, questions, doubts, worries and fears.
“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.” Oh, what joy, what relief… but what in the world, God?! Why wouldn’t you tell me before? Why the agony, confusion and anger? Why the sleepless nights? I get to be a part of THIS big of a plan and you’re not going to tell me beforehand!? What was the purpose of all the pain? Joseph probably thought it was pointless God allowed him to go through all that.
‘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.” As Joseph accepted and obeyed the words of the angel who visited him, the coming of Jesus grew near. The divine hope and overflowing joy of the birth of Emmanuel surely gave no more room for Joseph’s questions. The present joy (Jesus) absolutely outweighed the pain of the “why”. Joseph probably didn’t even care about the ‘why’ now. But maybe, years down the road, Joseph lie awake at night once again, asking God.. “Why did you choose to do it that way?” Maybe Joseph never got an answer. But I picture God answering him in a gentle whisper…. “But aren’t you glad I did? Those sleepless nights, you were talking to me. That doubt and confusion you wrestled with, you came to me. Your mind will never be settled with an answer, but your heart will always be settled with my presence. And that, my dear son Joseph, is what you needed.”
I pray this Christmas, I can set aside my “why” and simply draw near to Jesus. I pray I can run to Him first with my confusions, doubts, joys and praises. I pray the season of His coming can be a time of letting the presence of Jesus overflow within me, so I have no more room for questions. Because my mind won’t be settled with an answer, my heart will be settled with His presence.
We were excited to take this year’s Christmas Card Photos on the Bosphorus – the water between the continents of Europe & Asia.
The Diebler’s wish you a Merry Christmas from Istanbul!
Love & Light,