By Danny Saavedra
“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ . . . When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.”—Matthew 1:20–21, 24 (NLT)
Have you ever committed to something only to find out that it was more than you bargained for? The kind of thing that gives you buyer’s remorse? What do I mean? Well, have you ever purchased a car you thought was in good condition only to find out a few months later it needed a new radiator and it would cost a ton to fix? Have you ever taken a job with a specific job description only to be given tasks and responsibilities outside your area of experience without a raise, new title, or reduction of other responsibilities? Often in these moments, we think, I didn’t sign up for this!
How do you think Joseph felt when he was informed that his soon-to-be-wife, with whom he had not yet shared a marital bed, was pregnant? How do you think he felt when she began making outlandish, impossible to believe, and slightly insane claims about an angel, immaculate conception, and the Messiah? She claimed she conceived by the Holy Spirit, but that must have been a hard pill for Joseph to swallow. Chances are that he didn’t believe her. Honestly, who would? I can imagine at that point he may have had some fiancée’s remorse.
What would you have done in that moment? For most of us, when we encounter a situation where we get more than we bargained for, or when things don’t go the way we want with an agreement (cable service anyone?), we’ll complain to customer service, demand to speak to a manager, and make threats of cancelling our account until we get what we want. In Joseph’s particular situation, most people would have publicly disgraced Mary. Some may have even brought down the full extent of the law and had Mary stoned to death. But Joseph wasn’t most people . . .
While Joseph isn’t mentioned much in the Gospels, and we don’t have a ton of information about his life, here’s what we do know: He was a good man (Matthew 1:19, PHILLIPS). There aren’t many figures in the Bible described as “a good man.” This puts Joseph in some truly elite biblical company among men like Noah, Daniel, and Job. In Matthew 1:19 (NLT, emphasis added), we’re told, “Joseph . . . was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.” No shame, no death; he opted for a quiet, compassionate resolution.
But then an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Mary as his wife, because the child in her womb was in fact the Savior. Once again, Joseph could have said to himself, I didn’t sign up for this. Raising the Savior? I’m just a carpenter. I’m not equipped for this. This is more than I bargained for. Count me out. But he didn’t do that. Instead, when he woke up, he did everything the angel commanded.
Joseph was faced with a difficult situation. He was asked to marry a woman who was pregnant before their wedding and endure the criticism, gossip, and shame that surely followed. You don’t read of a big celebratory wedding for Mary and Joseph. It’s very likely they married against the wishes of both families. But Joseph courageously endured this and showed his faithfulness to the Lord by raising Jesus as his own. He was obedient in the face of a daunting situation.
In our lives, we may face difficult situations that may bring us to say, I didn’t sign up for this. We may fall into various trials, we may be called to carry out an impossible vision, or to step out of our comfort zone. Here’s the thing: God often gives us more than we bargained for. He often puts us in situations we can’t possibly handle on our own. He does this so we can be faithful, obedient, and rely fully on His strength, wisdom, and direction to bring us through it.
Like Joseph, let’s commit to obedience and faithfulness, no matter the cost. And let’s remember what we signed up for—to receive God’s grace by surrendering our lives to Him and following His Son. And let’s hold fast to the promise that His grace is sufficient for us; that His power is made perfect in our weakness . . . especially in the moments where we get more than we bargained for and more than we can handle.