20 March 2017
“Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” (v. 19)
How do you solve a problem like Maria? Well,
Joseph thought he knew what to do. He didn't want to harm Mary or
cause her more disgrace than was necessary - but nevertheless, he
couldn't very well father another man's child, could he? What a way
to start out on married life - with all notions of purity and
loyalty destroyed before any proper union could begin to be formed
between them. So Joseph resolved to move on with his life - perhaps
try again for another bride and let Mary go her own way and face
the consequences of her untimely pregnancy. What choice did he
have? What else could he do?
But it turns out that there was another way,
another possibility, another future - if only he could see it. But
(like so many of us) he required some help in seeing: he needed
divine intervention to open his eyes to reality and possibility.
And so it was that, literally overnight, the world became a
different place for Joseph and his bride-to-be.
So many of us can feel trapped by our
circumstances - whether it be finance, work, relationships, poor
mental health, lack of opportunity … or any number of our own
personal constraints. "What else could I do?" we cry to justify the
decisions we wish we didn't have to make. The challenges we face
can box us in and shorten our eyesight: when you're so busy
wrestling with the immediate issues, it's can feel impossible to
lift your eyes to see the bigger picture.
So what does it take to change someone's mind,
to offer a different perspective? For Joseph in today's passage,
two things seem central:
- the removal of fear (verse 20)
- the possibility of an alternative picture of the future
For Joseph - and, I think, for us too - even
though we may feel trapped and limited by what we face, there
remains the possibility of a different future. God shows up, offers
transformation in the most unlikely of circumstances, and guides us
to an alternative path. This alternative future might not solve all
our problems - it may even create a few of its own - but it comes
with the assurance that God travels with us and that all things
work together for good for those who love God, who are called
according to his purpose" (Romans
- Do you ever think, 'I don't have a choice, what else could I
do?' How true are those words in your circumstances?
- Do you feel trapped or limited by any circumstances in your
life? If so, who or what might help you to imagine an alternative
- What role might you play in helping others to break out and see
the bigger picture?
Bible notes author: Anna Drew