When you think of being highly favored what comes to mind? Do you picture ease, prosperity, and perfect relationships? I do.
The angel called Mary highly favored of God twice in one meeting. Yet her life was full of daunting challenges, losses, and misunderstandings.
When Mary came back from a three-month visit with her cousin, she told her fiancé she was pregnant—and God was the father. Joseph didn’t believe her. He looked for a way to divorce her. (It took divorce or death to end a New Testament Jewish engagement.)
If an angel called you highly favored, if God had picked you to carry His child, wouldn’t you think He would have told Joseph before this tense misunderstanding? After all, Joseph was the designated head of the house. This event involved him in a major way.
Since God set the bar on sexual purity, why would He let others believe Mary was sexually loose?
The stigma of being an unwed mother followed Mary. Remember how religious leaders called Jesus illegitimate? I find it confusing that God allowed people to believe Joseph and Mary were sexually immoral when in fact they showed extraordinary restraint. Joseph kept Mary a virgin until after Jesus’ birth.
Wouldn’t you think God would clear the reputation of someone highly favored when purity was His idea? Living in a culture that flaunts sex, it is hard for us to imagine what this meant for Mary and Joseph. How many carpentry customers and friends did Joseph lose from his religious circle?
Sometimes God’s ways are confusing. Isaiah 55:8 reminds us God’s ways are not our ways. They are better.
God cleared Mary’s reputation with those to whom it mattered. He also used this misunderstanding to benefit Mary, Joseph—and us. Having gone through this challenge:
- They were able empathize with those who didn’t believe their story. They didn’t waste energy being offended that others didn’t believe when it had taken an angelic visit for Joseph to understand.
- Joseph modeled how to handle betrayal. Remember how Judah wanted Tamar publicly burned when he was just as guilty (Gen. 38). But Joseph tried to protect Mary in how he sought a divorce.
- Mary and Joseph’s confidence in God grew. Faith grows through tests (James 1:2-4). With each new challenge this couple could look back and remember how God carried them through the previous trials.
- We benefit. When people believe lies about you, remember some of God’s most highly favored saints were misunderstood. This conflict may be a sign you have the favor of God.
Sometimes our lives are confusing too. If you need God’s perspective on your situation, we’d love to help. I’ll try to address your questions in a post or by email. Or call Larry and set up an appointment to talk (919 469-2477).
Question: How does Mary and Joseph’s confusing experience help you? Click here to comment.
Deborah W. Wilson
Photo by: Els