Matthew 1:18-25 (NRSV)
Verse 18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Verse 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. Verse 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. Verse 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Verse 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: Verse 23"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." Verse 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, Verse 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Undoubtedly, Mary's pregnancy was not easy on the fledgling relationship between her and Joseph. The social consequences for Mary would have been shame and ostracism; was he worried she was trying to save herself from disgrace? Joseph must have spent many a tormented hour wondering what to do. But in the end, he trusted both her and the Lord and went ahead and married her. Did he really know what he was getting himself into? Do any of us ever know?
Christ does not come to save us from uncertainty or from the pain of love and loss. But he does come to be God-with-us — Emmanuel. God knows our deep human need to not be left alone. Hence, God sent an angel to Joseph so he would not have to endure such a risk alone. God did not abandon Joseph to an awkward and potentially shameful life decision. God gave him a sign. Jesus Christ is God's most trustworthy and reliable sign to us that God will never abandon us in the uncertainty and riskiness of life.
Thank you again, God, for Joseph and for raising him up as a man who took a tremendous risk to trust. Only you could send the right messages to help us make gracious decisions. Amen.