December 22 I Thursday
“Because Joseph [Mary’s] husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…” —Matthew 1:19-20
When Joseph found that Mary, his betrothal, was pregnant with child and he was not the baby’s father, he could have gone to the town elders and had her stoned to death according to the Old Testament Law. Joseph, however, was a man of integrity and carefully considered his next step. The Greek word used in the opening verse of this devotion for what Joseph was doing is what we would describe as being awake in the middle of the night with a mind churning and stirring with all the turmoil of what is going on in life. It was in Joseph’s deep pondering that an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “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). God revealed five things to Joseph: 1) Do not be afraid, 2) this is from the Holy Spirit, 3) Mary will have a Son, 4) you are to name Him Jesus and 5) Jesus will save His people from their sins.
It is interesting that God leads with “Do not be afraid,” but afraid of what? Was Joseph afraid that Mary had been with another man? Afraid that she was lying to him? Afraid of what his family, community and others may think? God could quite possibly be speaking to all of these fears going on in Joseph’s mind. Yet, God comforted Joseph by letting him know that this was none other than God at work.
When our focus and faith is rooted in what God has made known to us, what God has spoken to us, the result is that it stills the fears in our lives and the turmoil swirling around us. 1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear....” When Joseph met God in a dream, he was encountering the perfect love of God that drives out fear. The perfect love of God spoke peace into Joseph’s life and calmed his fear.
Although the dream that God gave Joseph did not change the situation, it did provide Joseph with the peace and confidence in knowing that what he and Mary would endure was exactly what God wanted them to be doing. When we encounter situations that cause us to fear or experience turmoil, may we find comfort in knowing that the presence of God is with us, even when circumstances do not change.
Prayer: Dear Almighty God, there are situations in my life that are causing me fear and giving me turmoil. While I do not know what You are doing in the midst of it, I do know that You are with me through it all. Thank You, Lord.