Summary: When God's plan intersects with yours, life can be seriously disrupted. In this story, Joseph the husband of Mary reminds us that our lives are arranged by God and that often isn't easy. But, God's grace is also evident.
God’s Grace when Disrupting Life
Text: Matthew 1:18-25
When God's plan intersects with you plans, the disruption to your life can be dramatic and traumatic, as was the case with Joseph. But, we also see God's grace at work in the midst of the shattering the happiness Joseph thought he would have.
1. God disrupted Joseph's life in the process of bringing salvation to all people.
2. God gave Joseph understanding of the meaning for the disruption.
3. God's disruption allowed Joseph to participate in the plan of salvation.
The story of Joseph, husband of Mary, reminds us that the steps of a righteous person are arranged by God. God may choose to use us in His plan, and by using us disruption will occur. We need only to trust His character and do what is right.
Initial thoughts: God 's plan to bring salvation to all people intersects with Joseph's plan to bring happiness to himself and his family. Obviously, God's will takes precedence over any person's will. God is under no obligation to explain himself. He is under no obligation to respect the wishes of those he created. Yet, his grace is evident to the once whose life he has just begun to upend.
2. God Gave Joseph understanding.
a. Dreams are where people often sort out their unresolved and seemingly unresolvable issues. How often have you had a dream that didn't make sense? Sometimes, the weird dreams get written off as the affect of a bad pizza the night before. Sometimes, they are the plays that our subconscious performs as a way of making sense of things. Sometimes, those plays are scripted by the Lord himself.
b. The dream gives Joseph an understanding of what God is doing. The dream also gives Joseph instructions concerning the coming Christ-child.
c. The result of the blessing of this dream for Joseph is peace and purpose. He knows that God caused the situation. He knows that God's purpose for doing this is good. He knows that he has a role in it.
d. The result of the dream? I suspect that Joseph gained confidence that he could handle the consequences of what was going to happen. He may well have received peace that calmed the confusion and dispelled the anger.
When God's plan intersects with Joseph's plan, the result is a serious disruption in Joseph's life.
a. God disrupts lives.
Joseph is not a wealthy man. That gives me the idea that his engagement to Mary was motivated by love. Wealthy people arrange marriages in order to consolidate power and wealth. They find their happiness in accomplishing great things and accumulating valuable things. They want to keep what they have in the family, and so their marriages are calculated to accomplish that. In contrast, the poor seek to find happiness in loving relationships. They marry those they love and believe will bring them happiness.
I want to pause for a moment and consider what this reveals about God's heart. He bypassed the wealthy in order to allow Jesus to be raised in an environment that valued love and nurturing relationships.
1. Joseph's happiness was disrupted with grief.
i. The beautiful young girl who was to be his wife was found to be pregnant. The heart of a young man in love explodes with horrible realities.
1. She's been having an affair.
2. She doesn't really love me.
3. I must not be loveable.
4. This isn't really happening.
ii. The mind of the young man swirls with confusion.
1. I thought she loved me. She doesn't.
2. Who stole her heart?
3. Where her parents involved?
4. Who else knew?
5. Where is God? Where was God? Where will God be in my life?
The Big Question: What grace did God have in the midst of disrupting Joseph's life?
3. Joseph participated in the plan of salvation.
a. All Joseph did in response to the dream advanced the plan for salvation. Taking Mary home as his wife played a part in my salvation. Abstaining from sexual relations with his wife played a part in my salvation. Naming him Jesus played a part in my salvation.
b. Participation was not without risk. Joseph had to escape to Egypt. He had to come back to Israel, too.
Concluding thought: When the divine plan intersects with human will, the result can be disrupting. How does one find faith when our happiness appears to have been stolen? When the spouse cheats? When the child dies? When employment is lost? When health fails?
The steps of a righteous person are guided by the Lord. Faith to go on comes from trusting God's character. What happens to the life of a person who fears God will often be painful, confusing, and sometimes angering. Sometimes, God will speak His plan into our hearts if we still ourselves so that we can hear Him. Whether he gives a dream doesn't matter. We know that God works everything out for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. You will have to endure pain. You will have to change your plans. You will have to forgive. But you will be in God's will and participating in the plan of salvation.