Before I go any further in the Gospel of Luke, I think some insight can come from what Joseph was going through. (Matt 1:18-25)
When Joseph discovered his fiance’ (whom he hadn’t had sex with) was pregnant, he thought she’d been unfaithful to him. The scripture doesn’t say how far along she was when Joseph “discovered” it. But he “being a just” (and a kind) man, didn’t want to embarrass her publicly. So he thought about divorcing her privately. In those days engagement required a divorce. The marriage commitment began with the engagement (betrothal) and sex still didn’t enter into the relationship until after the marriage. Interesting….commitment before sex…what a concept! And not just saying you’re committed, but demonstrating it for months. This builds trust as a foundation to the relationship.
Anyway, he could have easily acted out of hurt and made a public example of her for revenge. The scriptures say “but while he thought on these things”. So we know he didn’t just react out of anger and hurt. He thought about it for a while. Since he was a righteous man he probably prayed about what to do, as he thought, and he waited for inspiration to come. (Maybe this is when Mary went to visit her cousin for 3 months? He needed a time out. 🙂 ) But Joseph was to play a big role in Jesus’ life so I’m sure he needed a pretty strong testimony of what was happening. The Lord had compassion on Joseph and sent an angel to him in a dream. The angel told Joseph who the child is and to name him Jesus and assured him that this was according to God’s plan. Joseph married Mary right away “and he knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son”.
I’m sure, if Joseph wasn’t up for the task, the Lord could have found someone else. But I believe that people are put in the path of others for a reason. We always have a choice whether or not to walk the path and follow the inspiration we receive. Sometimes I’ve chosen to go my own way because His way seems too hard or, more commonly, I was not patient enough to wait for the inspiration. Down the road I’ve realized that my way was the hard one. What I thought was easier and would get me to the same place, took me over some unnecessary hazards that I could have avoided. And it took me a lot longer to get to where He knows I can be.
I’m guessing that Joseph’s journey wasn’t easy from that point on. I’m guessing there were friends and family who didn’t have the assurance that he had about who Mary’s child was. More sacrifice would be required of him. But he was committed. He was faithful to the end. He helped raise the Son of God and other children. I’m sure he never imagined his life would go this way. But Joseph prayed for inspiration before he acted and was willing to act on the inspiration he received.
Patience isn’t easy. I’ve found that sometimes I have to keep doing those things that keep the Holy Spirit with me while I’m waiting for inspiration. Chances are greater that I’ll know what direction to take when it is presented to me. Sometimes I don’t even know that my path was directed until years later. The Holy Spirit gives us a calm assurance that what we are doing is right. If we don’t feel that peace, maybe we’ve veered off the path.