Engagement is one of the happiest times in a young couple’s lives. It is the time of life when hours are spent dreaming of all the joy that is to come. It is the singular moment in one’s life when love seems perfect and trustworthy.
Joseph and Mary’s love story had been horribly and inexplicably interrupted. Mary is pregnant and Joseph knows that he is not the father. Joseph surely must have wondered if Mary had been violated, although she was quietly insistent that the child in her womb had been placed there by the Holy Spirit.
Did Joseph wonder if Mary was delusional? How else is it possible to explain this catastrophic turn of events? What was once lovely is now tinged with ugly. What was once anticipated is now dreaded.
Joseph apparently did not believe Mary’s story because his plan was to put her away privately. This was the kindest and most loving choice for a young man found in the throes of betrayal. He could have allowed her to be stoned before the baby was born. Or, after giving birth, he could have allowed both her and the baby to be stoned. Sending her away never to be heard from again was the ultimate loving sacrifice on Joseph’s part.
It is impossible to even imagine Joseph’s disappointment with God and with the person whom he had loved most in the world. Mary had been his world and now he would never see her again. Did Joseph believe that the girl of his dreams had given her virginity to another man?
Joseph did not deserve this betrayal or this heartbreak. What he “deserved” was a wedding day filled with joy and the promise of young love.
Now, perhaps, Joseph’s reputation had been sullied on the streets of Nazareth and his boyhood friends were snickering behind his back.
Joseph had to face Mary’s parents and his own parents. Although he bore no guilt there was still the possibility that they would not believe him. There was no holiday frivolity for this disappointed, heartbroken young man.
Are you facing severe disappointment at Christmas this year? My prayer for you is that you will allow the promise of Christmas to overshadow the painful realities of your life. Do not allow Christmas to be defined by your disappointment, but allow your disappointment to be forever changed because of Christmas.