Hi, I’m Mary, and I am sick to my stomach. Literally, but also figuratively, as well. I’m 14 years old, and my dreams are about to come true. Or were about to come true. It all looks so hopeless now. Yes, hopeless, that’s the right word.
You see somehow I’m pregnant. I don’t know how it happened. Oh don’t laugh at me, please, I’m much too fragile. I know how it happens, but not how it happened to me.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Several months ago this wonderful man, Joseph, from our village, went to my father and asked permission to marry me. Me! You might wonder why it surprises me so much, if you have seen the way Joseph smiles at me. And all the times we have chatted in the village square as the sun is setting, after he has been hard at work all day.
He is such a special man, my Joseph. Everyone says he is a righteous man, born in the lineage of our great King David. And he is indeed a righteous man. He is kind, compassionate, and so gentle. Yes, that’s it, he has such gentle eyes.
But what can I expect from him now that his obnoxious brother Jude has seen me with the morning sickness? How will Joseph react to this awful news? He is such a man of God, but what would any mere man do? To expect him to believe me is ridiculous. If he is an ordinary man he will protect himself and throw me to the wolves.
How could this happen to me? Life was just about to become so good. I was so sure God had put us together for a reason. My life was going to be settled; everything was working out just as I had hoped. Oh my, there’s that word again. Hope. Or hopeless.
But even in my despair, I still refuse to react in fear. I will respond in faith, trusting that my Heavenly Father loves me perfectly, and is with me.
You are, with me, aren’t you, Father? I believe, Father, help me with my unbelief!
I feel like Job, who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him ….”1
The problem is they, my villagers, might indeed slay me. Stoning is a possible penalty for being pregnant out of wedlock. But I refuse to lose my hope in my Lord. I know I can trust him. I know he can and will bring good out of this. Won’t he?
I remember our rabbi telling us that hope, in our holy scriptures, means confident expectation, not wishful thinking. And I also remember him talking about how we tend to put our hope in other people, or things – that our trust is in so many other … I think he said idols, instead of the only One who can truly be trusted.
People will let us down, even with the best of intentions. If this child inside me is a son, I intend to teach him not to put his trust in men, but to know their hearts are compromised. Instead, I will teach him, as his ancestor King Solomon wrote in his Proverbs, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”2
I need straight paths now, Father. I want to hope in you, to confidently expect you to show me why and how this has happened to me. To protect me, just as I want to protect this child growing in me. I want to raise him to be a child of yours, even as the bastard child he surely will be. I want to teach this child not to condemn, but to show compassion.
Imagine if one day he has a young girl like me thrown in front of him, with the Pharisees demanding a verdict of condemnation on her, because she has made a mistake. What would he do? What would he want Joseph to have done for me?
Would he condemn her or show her compassion? Will I be condemned?
I simply cannot put my hope in Joseph. He is a man. Yes, he is a righteous man, but any normal man will react in fear and condemn me. So I will follow our great King’s words in his psalm and say, with hope, withconfident expectation, “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame … guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”3
My hope, my confident expectation, is in you, oh my Lord, as it should be, not Joseph.
But … what will Joseph do?
Next week: Joseph and Mary