While Mary and Elizabeth were off singing in the hills, Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, was at home stewing over what to do about his fiancé. Stoning was the legal prescription for this sort of adultery, but clearly Joseph had a choice in what happened to Mary and this must have weighed heavily on his mind.
Isn’t this a great story with the perfect ending? Joseph, a good man who follows God, discovered he had an unfaithful fiancé. He had to be upset about it, and understandably so. I’m sure he was losing sleep over this decision. However, when he finally fell asleep, an angel appeared to him with an explanation and a solution.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every time we were troubled, overwhelmed with grief, confused about a decision, fraught with worry or discouraged by circumstances we would have a dream and an angel appear to us and tell us what to do? Or better yet, what if that angel just came and fixed the situation the way we wanted?
Thankfully, that is not usually how God works. If he did, most of us would just use Him like a handyman. We’d call on Him every time we needed something fixed, and we’d forget all about the fact that Jesus calls us His “friend” and that He wants to be a part of our lives in all situations—ordinary and extraordinary, easy and hard, good and bad, happy and sad. My experience has been that my “friend” Jesus shows up in the middle of my troubles if I invite Him; really invite Him. In fact, I would say that it has been in the midst of some of the greatest troubles and trials in my life that I have experienced Jesus in the sweetest, new ways.
Let’s look at what Jesus says about troubles: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Scripture is full of promises for when you encounter troubles:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:11-12)
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11)
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18)
Consider the promise of 1 Peter 5:7. Let’s read it from a few different versions:
“So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) [Phillips]
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) [New Living Translation]
“Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) [The Message]