There’s something about Joseph, too.
I always knew there was something about Mary. I studied her at length. I wrote about her. I prayed to have a heart like her. And I love that an unwed, pregnant, teenage girl was used to bring the Savior into the world. During the Christmas season this year, for the first time, something about Joseph stuck out to me. This year I felt different all season long. I didn’t really have the urge to decorate.
I think it was because I was annoyed at God.
I was annoyed that He didn’t take away my depression. Especially at Christmas. I was annoyed because I felt like I had been fighting it forever, seeking His face, trusting Him, and still struggling. And for some crazy reason He was putting it on my heart to share the struggle. Annoying. I mean…why?? Who in the world would want to read about the actual struggle?? People want solutions. Not to read about other people’s problems.
And…in my head, I kept asking God “Wouldn’t you get more glory if I shared my freedom from depression instead of my battle with it??” Come on.
I was so annoyed.
At the Christmas Eve service, our pastor read the Christmas story in a way I’ve never heard it before. It was powerful. The music crescendoed in the most amazing parts and completely stopped in others just when our brains needed to pause and consider what he had just read.
I was captivated. So it was weird when we left and all I could think about was the part about how God changed Joseph’s heart about divorcing Mary.
If you read the story in Matthew chapter one, it says that after Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he “decided to divorce her secretly.” That would have been quite the plot twist.
It’s what Joseph did next that moved me.
If I had been in Joseph’s sandals, I would be a disaster. I would seek out friends to hear my sob story. “The woman I wanted to marry got pregnant and swears she hasn’t slept with anyone. She DEFINITELY hasn’t slept with ME. My life is over. She’s crazy. I’m such a victim.” I know, I’m dramatic. But my friends would understand. I would MAYBE pray but only after pouring my heart out to my friends. Praying is often my go-to option when I’ve exhausted all others.
Key word: exhausted.
Joseph took a nap.
He was confronted with this total disaster of a situation and, planning to divorce/separate from Mary, HE RESTED.
I don’t pretend to know why God puts stuff in the Bible, but I know for me, that night as our pastor read the Christmas story, I needed to hear that Joseph took a nap. That with all the swirling uncertainty and chaos in Joseph’s mind…he chose to REST. And that’s when he heard from God and changed his plans.
I heard once that “rest is a weapon.” A weapon in spiritual warfare. A weapon that confesses “God, I trust You. I’m going to sleep.”
I have always thought that was interesting because rest is a weapon that hardly anyone in our culture uses to fight anything. We hate rest. Rest feels like weakness.
I don’t mean Netflix binging and staying in our pajamas all day. That’s not really rest. I mean sleep.
The kind of sleep the Lord has been leading me to discover throughout this year. It’s the only real rest. Some nights I get it better than others. Because some days I live surrendered. And other days I live completely uptight holding all my problems in the grip of my hand and spend my every moment hustling for solutions. Or complaining to my friends.
Surrendered sleep comes when I acknowledge that everything is in His hands anyway, and staying up the whole night hustling or worrying isn’t going to help.
Sometimes, in order to sleep “surrendered” - I have to turn my noisemaker all the way up, put in my ear plugs, get my weighted blanket, and pray out loud until the peace comes. I do the first 3 things a lot more than the last thing. God is so patient with me. Sometimes I have to get out of bed and start over. Get on my knees. Even lift up my hands and say “TAKE THIS!! Please!!” He does. He already did. It’s really more about me letting go.
Bob Goff says “The way we deal with uncertainty says a lot about whether Jesus is ahead of us leading, or behind us just carrying our stuff.” I love that. I want to stay close to Him. Closely following Him. Surrendered.
Psalm 4:8 in the Passion translation says “Now, because of you, Lord, I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once, for no matter what happens, I will live unafraid!”