“How could you do this to me?!”, his voice is calm but set with that distinct undertone of a man whose spirit has been broken. He is pacing back and forth, his mind racing with every step, and a chilling coldness in every intermittent glance in her direction. He is beyond tears and for the most part beyond words. His world is falling apart, taking his dreams and hopes along with it.
“I didn’t do anything, you have to believe me!”, she cries desperately. Her heart is filled with sorrow as she utters these words. It breaks her heart to see him in so much pain on her account. It had been difficult enough to tell her parents, whose heads hung in shame as they looked upon her and called her a disgrace to the family name. At first, she felt anger at them for not believing her. But then again, how could they? She could hardly believe herself that she was pregnant, although she had never been with a man. How could she possibly make Joseph believe that she was telling the truth? If roles were reversed, would she believe that?
“Yes, yes, you said the power of the Holy Spirit.”, he answered sarcastically. “Is it not enough that you brought this shame upon us? Do you have to blaspheme as well?”. With these words, he picks up his bag of tools and starts leave. As he reaches the door he pauses, and for a moment Mary holds her breath. But as he turns around, the look of defeat on his face dashes her budding hopes to the ground – the worst is yet to come. He looks straight at her for a minute, takes a deep sigh of disappointment and disbelief, then quietly asks, “What did I ever do to you to deserve this?”. She feels her chest constrict and breathing momentarily difficult. The words pierce through her heart like a fiery arrow. He turns with a sigh and exits the home, carelessly leaving the door ajar behind him. His steps are limp but determined, as he seeks to get as far away as possible – the walk of a man whose joy has turned to ashes in his mouth.
Mary wipes the tears streaming freely down her cheeks as she stands in the door frame and watches him leave. Her heart throbbing in pain, in spite, or rather, because of the awareness that Joseph is in an even darker place. Her life is coming apart at the seams, and through the tears, she ponders what the future holds in store for her.
In only a matter of weeks, she will not be able to hide the pregnancy. She will be ostracized by the community, shamed, and called names. Not just her, but her whole family too. They didn’t deserve this, nor does she, for that matter. Even now, Joseph could have her stoned to death if he so chose. She throws herself to the ground and cries out in desperation, “My Lord and my God, everything is going wrong and I do not know what to do! You brought this upon me, O God, help me!!”
A lot of times I try to imagine what certain scenes of stories in the Bible must have been like. Often, we get the facts of a story, but not a reflection of the feelings and struggles of the characters involved. I figure that when we try to add some context to a situation, we can gain a better appreciation of their struggles.
The excerpt above is my imagination of what it could have been like for Mary. I think about her humility in accepting God’s will for her life completely, although it could mean shame, disgrace or even death. “I am the Lord’s servant,…may it happen to me as you have said” Luke 1:38
She trusted that God knew what He was doing although she didn’t have all the details. The angel Gabriel didn’t give her a blueprint of how it would all work out from the beginning. She didn’t know how Joseph, her family or friends would react. That kind of trust in God required grace.
When we submit ourselves to God’s will, He uses us in ways we may not have imagined – sometimes painful, sometimes frustrating – but always fulfilling. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow! In the difficulty, we may sometimes doubt or lose focus because circumstances look so overwhelming. But we are never alone.
As we celebrate this Christmas and go into the new year, may we remember that God is with us through it all. We must choose each day to trust and rely on Him. He has a plan for our lives and He gives us the grace for our journey.
“Give yourself to the Lord; trust in him, and he will help you” — Psalm 37:5
— N. Fet