What if I told you that God understands where you are right now? In fact, what if I told you that He understands what you are going through, how you feel, your questions, your concerns and that He isn’t bothered by them. Actually, He wants you to know that He intentionally allowed a man and a woman whom He handpicked to raise His only Son to go through seasons of unrest, uncertainty, rejection, pain and confusion… just so that here and now with what you are going through, you could understand that God gets you?
I tell you, that is exactly what has happened!
Think back with me to the events leading up to the first Christmas. The writer Luke records that an angel from God visited a young girl in Nazareth named Mary. At the time, she was probably only around 13 or 14 years of age and she was already engaged to a man named Joseph. The angel brought the most unusual message. “Greetings, favored woman! The LORD is with you…You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1: 28, 31-32).
Now, we are accustomed to reading the events of that first Christmas as if it’s a bedtime story. Each year we sing songs of angels heralding the birth of the Savior and the star shining down on the stable in Bethlehem. We imagine Mary with a soft glow around her face and gentle content in her eyes and in doing so, I believe we miss a very important message God wants to communicate to us through the events experienced by Joseph and Mary.
Think about it. Joseph is the one man chosen by God above all other men to raise His only Son! Mary is the one woman, chosen by God above all other women, to give birth to God’s only Son! If any couple ever deserved the “Red Carpet” treatment from heaven, it was Joseph and Mary, and yet, that is not what they received. Were they blessed? Yes! Did God provide for them? Yes! Was it easy? No!
After the greeting from the angel, Luke records that Mary was troubled and confused (vs. 29). Why was Mary troubled? Just think about her situation.
- She is a teenage girl with an angel in her room! Enough said. That would be one scary moment!
- She lives in Nazareth, a town of about 150 residents at the time. I’m sure you can guess what happens in a small town when it is discovered that a teenage girl is pregnant out of wedlock. Now, Mary and Joseph were espoused. In their culture, they were legally bound as if married, however, they were not allowed to consummate the marriage by physical intimacy until the wedding night. You can imagine the comments, the jokes, the slander, the whispers.
- How is she going to tell her parents that she is pregnant? Will they believe her story? There were no eye witnesses to her and the angel’s conversation.
- What about Joseph? How is she going to tell Joseph? Is he going to believe her? According to Matthew’s Gospel, he did not believe her, at least, not at first. Joseph was actually going to divorce her privately which gives us a little glimpse into the character of Joseph. He was such a good man that even though he felt Mary had betrayed him, he still did not want to embarrass her. An angel had to visit Joseph in his sleep in order to convince him that Mary was telling the truth.
- Mary and Joseph had to deal with the consequences in Nazareth for nine months!
Do you now understand why Mary was troubled and confused? I’m sure this young couple had more questions than answers. However, God was still with them.
From their experience, I believe God has given us good advice to follow for when we find the road we are traveling is difficult, confusing and even in those times when God doesn’t seem to make sense to us.
First of all, we learn that:
- FAITH CHALLENGED DOESN’T MEAN FAITH FAILED.
In fact, Joseph and Mary wouldn’t know how strong their faith was until it was challenged. Could this be why God chose Joseph? Is this the reason that Mary was highly favored of God? He knew what their character was made of. He knew their grit, their determination, their FAITH.
There will be times in your life where your faith will be challenged, but don’t give up, instead, reach up in faith and hold on to God. Don’t forget this, sometimes the road to your destiny is filled with difficulty, but the only way to experience the promise at the end of the journey is if you stay the course. God knows what you are made of, now you got to believe it yourself!
Second, God will provide what you need for the Journey.
- He will give you the INSTRUCTIONS you need for the Road
Look at the instructions He sent to Mary and Joseph.
Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus…35 The angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. – Luke 1: 31, 35.
But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 1: 20.
- He will give you the ENCOURAGEMENT you need for the Road
And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you…32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High,and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob Forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”…37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” – Luke 1: 28, 32-33.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” – Matthew 1: 21-23.
- He will give you the CONNECTIONS you need for the Road
Luke 1: 27 – To a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary…36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. – Luke 1: 27, 36.
You know that sometimes life takes you down roads that are difficult, even if you are trying to follow God and seek His direction for your life. In fact, sometimes God Himself will lead you down a dusty road because that path leads to the destiny He has planned for you. It’s in those moments that you must open your ears, your heart and your eyes. You must listen for those words of instruction that He will send. You must receive those words of encouragement when they come and You must see the people God places around you to help you navigate down the road before you.