How do you deal with situations where you have to completely change what you had planned? I always think I have a long term plan for my life. When it doesn’t work out, or I have to change something, I don’t always deal well with it.
I want to look at how Joseph reacts to some very difficult situations. I am going to jump back to Matthew chapter 1 for the first example. Joseph found out Mary was pregnant and planned to divorce her quietly. Then, he is visited by an angel, and was told in Matthew 1:21-22, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So, first Joseph plans to marry Mary. Then, when she is pregnant, he plans to divorce her quietly. So, his plans have already been messed up once before being visited by the angel. He is given a message from God. How does he react? By everything we see in scripture, it appears Joseph just listened to what God told him through the angel, and accepted it. That is amazing faith and obedience.
The second example is after the visit from the magi. This was probably one to two years later. We don’t have any real information about the life of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus during this time, but most likely they had settled into a routine and things were fairly normal. Then, after the Magi visit, Joseph receives another message from an angel. Matthew 2:13 record this message to Joseph, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” Again, his reaction was swift and decisive. Matthew 2:14 says, “So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.” He didn’t even wait till morning but left immediately.
Then, sometime later, an angel appeared to Joseph a third time. This time he was told, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead” in Matt 2:20. So, he went back to Israel, but because he was warned in a dream, they went to Nazareth. Again, there are no signs of questioning, just doing what he was told.
I have never been spoken to by an angel, so I don’t know how I would react in that situation. However, I have received direction from God in some pretty clear ways. I questioned what I was being told because it did not fit into my plans. So, I know that this immediate obedience is extremely difficult, but when we put all our trust in God, it is possible.