18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
How well do we cope with change? We make plans and imagine how they will work out, and then suddenly we face a new and unexpected reality and all those expectations evaporate. It is not easy to cope with and we can understandably grieve the loss of what we had hoped would occur.
In this short passage, Joseph has to deal with this not just once, but twice! He was engaged and happy, expecting the joy of getting married and maybe looking forward to starting a family together. However, during their engagement, Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant. He knows the baby is not his, and in shock starts to think of the only respectable thing he can do, to quietly release her from her commitment to him. However, as he went to sleep with these thoughts, he didn’t know that another huge change was coming.
This second change involves a dream and an angel! The angel brings another new plan for their lives, one we can be quite sure Joseph had never imagined. There will be no quiet separation, but the marriage will go ahead, there will be no ordinary baby but a divine child, there will be no choosing a name as they have a name already given by God and there will be no condemnation for sin, but the arrival of the Saviour.
We could forgive Joseph for feeling a little overwhelmed with all these changes. We could understand if he asked for time to absorb the news and its meaning for his life. Yet Joseph wakes from his dream and immediately proceeds with the new plan given by God, without a moment’s hesitation or doubt.
How do we process change in our lives? Joseph had plans, but when it came down to it, no matter how he felt, he was willing to give God’s plans priority and be obedient. Life often fails to meet our expectations and change is always interrupting our plans. How do we respond? Can we look at the changes in our lives and seek God’s will as our top priority? Are we willing to let go of our plans and let God show us what He has for us? What might this look like in my everyday life?
I thank you that I do not have to know all the plans all the time, but that my plans are in Your hands. Help me Lord as I live my life each day, to listen for your changes, for your will and for your way. Help me to obey you in the small things and the larger ones, learning true reverence for who you are and in assurance that you love me and want the best for me. Thank you that you are our guide and comforter in all the changes and surprises of life. Amen.