Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25)
I’ve been watching her from afar, with anticipation. But in the past couple months, she started to change. I watched her hair grow longer and thicker, her breasts getting fuller, and her face becoming rounder, pigmented, and shiny. Something’s different. I see clusters of women whisper as they pass, watching me and watching her. Initially I was confused. One day I couldn’t stand it anymore and confronted a matronly woman, demanding to know what she and other seemed to know. As she told me, her voice faded off and I felt adrift, in shock of course. When I finally snapped back into reality, I held up my hand to stop her blabbering, hung my head, and walked away. I went back to my workshop in a daze, and before I knew it, I was there. I couldn’t remember the journey in between. At first I sat down and became very still, in denial of what I just heard but knowing that it matched my observations. After some time of frozen silence, I got restless and began to work on something, pounding on it, not even caring that the wood was splitting and becoming nothing like what it was intended to be. It seemed a fitting metaphor–my plans for our life shattered with this revelation. How could this happen to me? I took out my frustration on the ruined project. Finally spent, I sank to my knees in despair and pleaded for God’s will to be done, for courage and strength to do the right thing, even if it’s costly. I could make her pay for this betrayal, or I could pay it myself and yes, forgive. I recalled my mother reading about the character of God–how he’s slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is faithful to his people, patiently bearing, forgiving, and relenting, no matter how many times they, we, wander away. As I thought about this, I realized that I could not condemn her. That night, before I slept, I prayed again for peace and strength to do the righteous thing, to have compassion the way that God would.
I couldn’t sleep, of course, although I tried. As I sat up again, I felt a gentle warmth surround me, and the gradual glow of a figure, and then a gentle, yet clear and firm voice–“Joseph”. When I heard my name, I listened like I had never listened before, every word carved into my memory forever. Afterwards, I wept in wonder and relief. My beloved would still be my beloved, and I would be hers. Never mind what the neighbors think or whisper about. God has given her back to me and bestowed on me the great honor of raising his son. Who am I, to be chosen for this task? Yet I felt assured that this would not be the last time that I would be visited. I’d need all the help I can get from the Father of all.
The next morning I looked around the mess in the workshop. How different I felt today as I set about cleaning up the place, picking up the tools and sweeping up the broken pieces. I looked at the piece of wood I had mangled in my grief. I picked up my tools to chip away the splinters and began to sand it, as I tried to imagine a shape for a toy that would delight a baby boy.
Review of Prayer
It seemed so difficult at first–the plain reading of the text was so dry. There just wasn’t much there. Yet as I journeyed, I encountered the God that Joseph believed in–a God of compassion and mercy–and I gained insight into how he was able to come to his resolution despite a justified sense of betrayal. I saw myself in the transformation of Joseph’s mindset from one of despair and grief over a lost future to one of hope and wonder.