Summary: Disappointment can be followed by discovery and renewed dedication.
AWAKE TO THE TRUTH OF CHRISTMAS
"When Joseph woke, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him..." (Matthew 1 : 24).
Matthew’s Gospel indicates that Joseph went to bed with a problem on his mind! A problem that exercised his mind greatly, that is, what to do about a pregnant fiancee! Will I marry her or divorce her? We understand from the text that if Mary’s circumstance were to be exposed, it would have meant public humiliation, not only for Mary, but also supposedly for Joseph himself. Thus, when Joseph was informed of Mary’s condition, he was naturally unhappy, however, he was also very considerate towards Mary. To his credit he wanted to deal with ’things’ quietly. Nonetheless, he went to bed thinking!
Have you ever gone to bed with a problem on your mind - a big problem? Do you ’toss and turn’? Do you replay every detail? Rehearsing! Nursing! Churning! No matter how much you try to put something out of your mind, it continues to intrude and take control of your thinking.
Joseph’s personal life had sustained a damaging blow and Joseph went to bed a troubled man. Yet, he awoke a different man. Resolved to take Mary home as his wife (v. 25). Indeed, this was a reversal of his intended decision. In the night hours God ministered to Joseph, calming his troubled spirit. God, through the means of a dream put everything into perspective for Joseph and he was not afraid to take Mary as his wife. In the morning Joseph was prepared to do what God required of him.
Joseph’s experienced a day of disappointment, but that day of disappointment was followed by a night of discovery, in turn, that night of discovery was followed by a morning of dedication.
This part of the Christmas story reveals how God chose to deal with Joseph’s disappointment. And, it is not the first time that God used this method to bring a change the heart to an individual. You might remember that Jacob was a lonely fugitive, fleeing from his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him. When he could no longer continue his ‘flight’ due to daylight fading, he decided to lie down to sleep, setting a rock for a pillow as night approached. That night Jacob had vision of God. When Jacob awoke in the morning he was a changed man (Genesis 28). Jacob, like Joseph went to bed with a problem, but awoke to a new direction for his life.
Maybe, Joseph shows us how to deal with problems and disappointments! Sleep on them!
But, much more than that, Joseph awoke to the truth of Christmas, and, it was that truth that caused him to change his mind concerning Mary. The truth that Joseph received in the night hours was sufficient for him to alter his thinking. What truth did he receive? Joseph received the truth that the child to be born would be Saviour. Joseph received the truth that through the child that was to be born that God now resided with men – God with us (Matthew 1: 23). It was these truths that freed Joseph from the cocoon of his own limiting thinking.
The truth that came to Joseph, is the truth that we need in dealing with problems, disappointments and hurts. God is with us as Saviour! To me that is a great liberating thought. Joseph, in the night hours was caused to think of a Saviour, who is present with us, in the midst of disappointment and confusion. Surely, there is a lesson to be learnt from the Christmas Joseph. As Joseph awoke to the truth of Christmas, may we awake to the truth of Christmas for us!
Christmas means that we have a resolution to any disappointment or difficulty. A Saviour!