Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 1:19 – Joseph was her promised husband. He was a good man and did not want to make it hard for Mary in front of people. He thought it would be good to break the promised marriage without people knowing it. (NLV)
Do you secretly wrestle with a gnawing sense of insignificance, feeling like you don't matter much? The sense of meaninglessness is a common form of suffering today. That's why, for a moment, I'd like to shine the spotlight on Joseph in the nativity event — specifically in his behind-the-scenes role as a protector for Mary and Baby Jesus.
The spotlight first shines on Joseph when, on discovering Mary's pregnancy, he is deciding to take legal steps to release her from her pledge in marriage. It is surely a heart-wrenching moment for him. He will lose Mary, yet wishes protect her honour and shield her from public disgrace. He puts her interests ahead of his own. He serves Mary as an instrument of God's grace. What an example of a godly protector!
Later on, we see Joseph protecting mother and Child from the wicked King Herod. It involves long journeys to and from Egypt. We cannot know what difficulties Joseph himself may have endured. But we can see that in his role as protector, Joseph is guided by God through dreams. God is using Joseph to protect his wife and her Child in their time of vulnerability. In that way, Joseph is also protecting something far grander: God's eternal plan of redemption. That is really quite breathtaking.
Joseph is one of those quiet men in Scripture. Nothing he said is quoted. Yet, he reminds us that silent people can be inspiring examples of faith, and God can use them for a purpose far beyond their own circumstances.
I see Joseph as a hero – not like the fairytale hero who, with dazzling valour, protects vulnerable princesses. Joseph is a hero by protecting mother and Child through his quiet integrity. He may not be in the spotlight, but in God's eyes, he is surely a hero of faith.
There's a lesson here regarding our own sense of calling: It's not about having a big role in a small drama, but about having a small role in a mighty big drama: God's eternal redemptive plan for humanity. The spotlight may never shine on us. We can be okay with that, if we realize that we live and move and have our being in God and His grand purposes. That's where we'd want the spotlight to shine!
Prayer: Dear Father, during those times when we feel insignificant and have little to say, may we remember Joseph. May we be content to know that, in some small way, through our submission to You, You can use us to be an instrument of Your grace. Amen.