Weaving together the threads that make up my passion for the written word…as an author, editor, and follower of The Word.
I’ve always felt a lot of sympathy for Mary. So young and inexperienced—I can only imagine how I would have handled her situation when I was that age. Certainly not with the same wisdom and grace that she showed. Honestly, I would have been terrified, bewildered, and mortified at what others were thinking.
I was 13 when my younger brother was born, and I looked older than my age. I still remember being out in stores with my infant brother and having perfect strangers glare and shake their heads at me. They assumed I was just another teen pregnancy case. There was nothing I could say or do but accept the burden of their silent condemnation, unfair though it was. It would have been even worse for Mary in that time and culture…living in a community where the people shaking their heads at her weren’t strangers, but neighbors, acquaintances…maybe even some relatives and friends. The consequences of a pregnancy outside of marriage would have been dire, and the law was against her. Joseph was well within his rights to completely ruin Mary’s reputation, and her life. Can you imagine how crazy her defense must have sounded?
But to Joseph’s credit, even before he was given angelic clarity, his plan was to take the high road. He didn’t want to hurt and punish Mary for the public shame she had brought upon him. Rather he wanted to save her from disgrace and quietly divorce her. By God’s grace clarity did come to Joseph and in the end he believed Mary’s story. No doubt there were plenty of others who didn’t. That cloud of doubt probably followed both of them for a very long time, and they had no choice but to accept it.
But God’s wisdom is infinite, and there are reasons why He chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly parents; their receptiveness, humility, gentleness of spirit, and willingness to follow God’s direction regardless of the cost to their personal plans or reputations. After all, He was placing in their earthly care His own son, Immanuel, “God with us.” No greater responsibility has been shouldered by any pair of human beings before or since. Mary and Joseph really do set a great example for us to aspire to—our relationships and families would be far stronger if we could exemplify the strength of their commitment to each other and to God, regardless of our circumstances.
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