Have you ever been caught between what God says and what makes sense?

Have you ever been caught between what God says and what makes sense?
Photo by Suvin Vengilat / Unsplash

I have questions for Joseph.

What was Jesus like growing up? Did you two ever wrestle on the grass? Did you ever listen in on Jesus' prayers? Whatever happened to you?

We don't really know what happened to Joseph. He played a critical role in Jesus' story at the beginning. Yet, besides one scene when Jesus was twelve, Joseph disappeared entirely from the story.

There is a lot of speculation, but for our purposes we will stick to the moments when Joseph can be found. Moments like the night in Bethlehem, with stars twinkling above his head and the sound of labor pains coming from the stable. 

Things Didn't Go According To Plan.

I imagine Joseph pacing in prayer, head shaking one minute and fist shaking the next. Much about his life has changed over the past few months. 

"This isn't the way I planned it, God." I imagine Joseph praying. "My child is about to be born in a stable. We are rooming with donkeys, hay, and filth. My wife doesn't have a mother or sister to hear her cries of pain—only the stars. I had such better plans than this."


Can you hear the cries of a laboring mother and a lost and confused father?

Only . . . Joseph was not the father of the little boy to be born. 

  • This was God's son.
  • This was God's plan. 
  • This was God's idea. 

Joseph would never have crafted such a bizarre scene for his own son to be born. There were no grandmothers, nosy neighbors, or celebrations. 

Yet, the two of them (Joseph and Mary) are there as strangers. They have no safe place to call home and no warm place to lay their newborn child.

Things did not go according to plan. Or did they?

We've All Been There.

I bet you have stood where Joseph stood that morning.

Maybe not in Bethlehem. Certainly not giving birth to God's son in a stable. 

But you have been caught between what God says and what makes sense. You may have obeyed him, but now wonder if it was him speaking in the first place.

You have questions. Concerns. You find yourself looking doubtlessly at a blackened sky, wondering if anyone is even there. 

You should have turned left instead of turning right. Are you still on the right road? Could you have you veered off and didn't even realize it? 

You might not find your doubt in a stable but on a couch as you doom-scroll through TikTok, on the manicured grass of a cemetery, perhaps outside a waiting room, or sitting on some old wooden pews.

You've asked your own questions. You've found your doubt. 

Bethlehem was not the last place God would hear the pleadings of a confused pilgrim. 

The Good & Beautiful Project

If you didn't know, I am working on a bigger project.

I am spending time with the cast of characters in the Bible to determine what made their lives good and beautiful. Obviously, I'll taking some liberties. Joseph is not here to tell us what was good and beautiful in his life or if he would even use those words.  

So, we will use what we know about these characters and filter their life through a three-pillar framework: coherence, purpose, and significance. A good and beautiful life is associated with the feeling that your life has a story (coherence), a story that is going somewhere (purpose), and a story that has cosmic, existential significance (significance).

Was Joseph's Life Good & Beautiful?

If you ask what Joseph asked, let me encourage you to do what Joseph did. 


That's what he did.

  • He obeyed when an angel called.
  • He obeyed when Mary explained.
  • He obeyed when God sent. 

Joseph only knew part of the story. He didn't know how things would turn out or what his role would be down the road. He simply knew the task in front of him, and he obeyed. He saw the cosmic significance of the moment and let it be his driving force. 

God is still looking for Josephs today—men and women who are not waiting around for life to happen to them. Like Joseph, you can't see the whole picture. Just like Joseph, your task is to see that Jesus is brought into your part of your world. And just like Joseph, you have a choice: to obey or disobey. 

Because Joseph obeyed, God used him to change the world. 

Imagine what God could do with your obedience.

God used Joseph's life to bring the Messiah (Savior of the world) into the world. I consider that a good life. A beautiful life. A life Joseph could look at knowing it was worth doing and living.

A good and beautiful life is not attached to having all the answers or even life going according to your plan. I learn from Joseph that part of it is learning to trust God's plan and be obedient to it.

You can be a common person and serve an uncommon God.

Will you be that kind of person?

For Reflection

  1. What is the connection between our obedience and divine guidance?
  2. What common ways can you serve an uncommon God this week?
  3. Read Hebrews 3:12-19. What are you taking away from these verses?