As someone who works with high school students and young adults, I have multiple conversations almost every week about what the future holds for high school and college students. Many times these conversations are filled with a growing fear about what is going to happen next. As you send in college applications, write scholarship essays, visit schools and are just trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, it can easily become overwhelming.
In Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ, we get to peek into Joseph’s mind and heart as a similar fear and confusion began to fill his soul–not about colleges and scholarships–but definitely about what would happen next.
Life was going well. He was engaged to Mary, a respectable young woman in town. In their culture an engagement was just as binding as a marriage and the only way out was through divorce. Yet during this time, there were to be no sexual relations.
Suddenly, one day Mary showed up with the news that she was pregnant. She tried to explain that she hadn’t had sex, that God sent an angel and told her all about it, but seriously, everyone knows there is only one way to get pregnant. Joseph began to try to wrap his mind around the situation and figure out what he should do. If he chose to divorce Mary, she could be stoned to death. Even though he was likely disappointed in Mary, he did not want to disgrace her in front of everyone. So he worked out a plan to divorce her quietly…just sign the papers and be done. But he still loved Mary, and what if by some crazy chance she was telling the truth?!? His mind was swimming, I’m sure.
In the midst of this tough decision making process, God sent an angel who said, “… Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife…you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. … and they will call him Immanuel–which means, ‘God with us.'” (Matthew 1:20-23)
Do not be afraid.
In the midst of one of the most intense decision making processes I could ever imagine, God reminded Joseph that there was no need to fear what would come because God was in the middle of it. Immanuel was with him every step of the way and Immanuel is with us as well!
So many situations in life can tempt us to fear the future. What college should I go to? How am I going to pass the text next Wednesday? What if my grandma’s cancer comes back?
As we go through these times, we can remind ourselves that there is no need to fear because Immanuel, God with Us, has come. He came as a baby in Bethlehem in order to go to the cross of Calvary. God became a human and lived among us so that we might live forever with Him in Heaven. We can trust God to guide each step of this life until that day.