Theme of the Week: Advent
Bible Verse: But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
There is a special kind of agony associated with heartbreak like Joseph experienced. It’s something you can’t understand until you experience it. Reading about it, hearing about, even seeing someone you love go through it isn’t the same as walking through the dark valley of duplicity – betrayal.
When reading this story, we do what we often do when hearing painful accounts of betrayal. We skip to the happy ending. The problem with that approach is that it only works for those whose love has not been tested by betrayal. Joseph didn’t have that possibility. He didn’t know the ending would be happy. Yet it was in this pain that Joseph chose to love.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I would have made the same decision Joseph made. When I sin, I want grace, but when I find myself sinned against, I want justice. Adherence to the law meant sending Mary away—there were consequences to her supposed sin. The question for Joseph was whether or not to do it publicly or privately. Was he going to get his pound of flesh on the way to seeking justice, or was he going to show grace to the one who caused him pain while doing what was right?
Joseph made his decision—he would seek justice, but not revenge—he was going to show love and grace to the one who betrayed him. And that’s when the angelic messenger met him with a simple message, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
God was present in the midst of Joseph’s pain, and Joseph received God’s messenger from a posture of grace and love. I wonder what would have happened if Joseph had allowed bitterness to harden his heart rather than allowing God’s grace and love to soften it? The Scriptures tell us over and over and over that God excels at softening stony hearts (Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).
Prayer: Are there petrified parts of your heart that need God’s softening touch? Has bitterness toward those who have hurt you overtaken your ability to love?
Reflection: Father, Son, Spirit. Give me the wisdom to embrace your grace and love when I experience pain, hurt, and betrayal. In this moment, I chose to release bitterness and vengeance toward those who have hurt me. When bitterness and disappointment threaten to petrify my heart grant me the resolve to surrender to your life-restoring work.
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