I believe Joseph is the unsung hero of the Christmas story. His mention in scripture is minimal, and we have little information about him, but Joseph had one of the toughest choices to make. He had to choose to obey God’s instruction when it was inconvenient and controversial.
It couldn’t have been easy for him to deal with the news that Mary was pregnant. I can just imagine the heartache, the feeling of betrayal, the anger, and the disappointment he must have felt upon hearing her announcement. The scripture implies he struggled to figure out how best to handle the situation: “Joseph, being a righteous man [seeking to do right] and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace [concerned for her reputation and well-being], planned to dismiss her quietly” [refused to make her a public spectacle]. (Matthew 1:19)
By all accounts, Joseph was a good man trying hard to do the right thing—the perfect man for the job God had lined up for him. Based on the message he received in a dream—“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” (vs. 20)—Joseph made the tough choice.
He chose to accept Mary as she was, without doubt. He chose to deal with the rumors that would circulate about them once her condition became known. He chose to swallow his pride, defy convention, and do what few others would have done.
Joseph was fully obedient to the task.
We’re called to do the same. Sometimes God urges us through his Spirit to do the unpopular, the unexpected, the uncomfortable—to love an unlovable person; to forgive a betrayal; to surrender a dream; to speak out against wrong. These are all hard choices, but we can make them, just as Joseph did, when we know God is in them.
Philippians 2:13 offers us this hope: “God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him” (CEV). What a comfort to know that even in the hard choices, God has our back.
What hard choice is God asking you to make today? You can find hope in remembering that we, like Joseph, experience blessing in obedience. So go ahead and take that first step.
*Joseph’s story can be found in Matthew 1:18-24.