Sunday, December 25, 2011

What Was Joseph Thinking?

I'm trying to imagine the Christmas story happening to me, as Joseph. Being a God-fearing man, when we arrive late in Bethlehem and my wife is about to give birth (to a special baby foretold by an angel, no less!), I'm not worried when I find that there's no room in the inn. I'm excited: God has somewhere special planned! I believe that God will bring someone across my path, maybe we'll be invited into a rich man's comfortable villa somewhere, maybe a relative will have a cozy, beautiful room specially prepared for us (“Oh, an angel came to me and told me you were coming,” he'll say). As time is going on and Mary is in more and more pain and the birth is coming closer, I start to become worried and agitated: what am I supposed to be doing? Where's God's miraculous provision? He sent an angel to me and one to Mary earlier; is He going to abandon us now, of all times?! Am I missing something? Did I do something wrong, so this isn't working like it was supposed to? Eventually we can't wait any longer, Mary is in active labor and she needs to be under some sort of shelter, so we have to make do with this barn that the innkeeper offered us. As this is happening, I keep wondering what went wrong? This can't be how it was supposed to happen! Have I failed, or has God failed, or what? In fact, I imagine (if he were like me) he would've spent the rest of his life pondering that question.
Yet, from all indications, it really was how it was supposed to happen. The ways of God are impossible to understand, and sometimes we need to accept that a situation that looks unacceptable and terrible from our point of view is exactly what God wanted, for reasons of His own.
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