Mary and Joseph are two figures in history whose brief mentions in the Bible deserve our study and admiration. Perhaps because some have gone from respect to veneration of Jesus’ earthly parents, we erroneously shy away from discussing their noteworthy faith. While human through and through, the faith they demonstrate at the beginning of their story in the Bible is worthy of imitation. There are three incidents in which we can observe their faith in action.
When Mary was told she would conceive a child, she had questions. How? After giving an unusual reply that probably rose more questions than answers, the Angel ended with “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” (Luke 1:37). In other words, “just trust.” Putting aside the barrage of questions that must have been forming in her mind, Mary answered: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word,” (Luke 1:38).
Joseph decided to do the “gentlemanly” thing at the time and quietly break off his engagement with Mary when he discovered she was with child. However, after an angel gave him an explanation not much clearer than the one given to Mary, he “did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him” (Matthew 1:24).
In our eyes, it might not have seemed wise for God to send His Son to be born right around the time the people were to be taxed. God knows all things, controls all things. Why, then, did He not send His Son at a more “convenient” time? Furthermore, where were the provisions for His Son’s birth? Trust in God did not mean the comforts of home or even a luxury hotel for Mary and Joseph. Instead, it meant a trip to distant Bethlehem.
“This was a toilsome journey, as people traveled in those times. Mary, who went with her husband, was very weary as she climbed the hill on which Bethlehem stands. How she longed for a comfortable place in which to rest! But the inns were already full. The rich and proud were well cared for, while these humble travelers had to find rest in a rude building where cattle were sheltered,” (The Story of Jesus, p. 13).
For Mary to choose such an arduous journey instead of staying home, it is likely that she and Joseph were the subjects of much gossip and targets of ill-will in Nazareth. Perhaps they had even been shunned by their families and communities.
However, trust in God also meant peace and celestial company for the weary travelers. It meant a peace and joy that only trust can bring.
“Joseph and Mary possessed little of earth's riches, but they had the love of God, and this made them rich in contentment and peace. They were children of the heavenly King, who was about to give them a wonderful honor. Angels had been watching them while they were on their journey, and when night came on, and they went to rest, they were not left alone. Angels were still with them,” (Ibid.).
Again, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. This time, He brought a warning about the impending search for the baby Jesus. And again, Joseph did what he was told. “Joseph did not wait till morning; he rose at once, and with Mary and the child, started by night on the long journey,” (The Story of Jesus, p. 25).
Where is God sending you? What is He asking you to do? Is it something that seemingly makes no sense right now? Something impossible? Is it to keep the Sabbath while everyone else advances their success? Is it to dress differently? Is it to speak only good things? Whatever it is, let us remember the example given by the people who were entrusted to care for the Saviour during His infancy on earth. Let us, like Joseph, do what the Lord bids us do. Let us, like Mary, take hold the promise that “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” (Luke 1:37). Let us too say “be it unto me according to thy word.”