JOSEPH, DID YOU KNOW?
In Luke’s gospel, we read Mary’s exchange with the angel who visits her and we comprehend the power of her experience as she erupts into prophetic song, but there’s not a single recorded word of Joseph, her soon-to-be husband. In Matthew’s account, we learn a bit about him—that he was a good man and that an angel visited him in a dream to assure him of Mary’s virtue—but we don’t hear from him at all. With such sparse information, I’ve wondered what his experience was like during the iconic nativity scene.
I wonder if he doubted his ability to care for his family. I imagine him approaching the innkeeper, explaining his dire situation, and his heart dropping as he found out that there was no room for them. Was he ashamed to explain to Mary that the innkeeper had offered them room out back with the animals? There they were, a new husband with his wife, amongst the animals with a newborn baby—whom he knew would be their redeemer—in a feeding trough. These could not have been the circumstances he had hope for.
I question if it was hard for Joseph’s pride to accept the humble circumstances that we celebrate each Christmas. I wonder if he knew that we would value the mess they found themselves in. As I picture Joseph, Mary, and our newborn Savior together with the barn-yard animals, I wonder if Joseph was disheartened with the very same scene that Christians have rejoiced in since the beginning.
We can’t know for certain if Joseph felt inadequate or incapable that night. If he did, I hope God told him what he told Paul, recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:9,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
We serve—just like they did—a God who uses weaknesses to show just how wonderful and powerful he is. This truth led Paul to resolve, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Even if Joseph was unable to boast in the humble circumstances found themselves in, we recognize them as a gift of God’s perfect planning and evidence of Jesus’ humility and humanity.
As we walk through this Christmas season, decorating every last inch until it is shiny and bright, I pray that we remember the presence of God’s power in our weakness, not in our ability to make everything—all the parties and gifts and dinners and family encounters—just right. Let us resolve, like Paul, not to fret over our insufficiencies and perceived failings, but to graciously accept God’s perfect power made present in our weakness.