Joseph’s Surprise: A Stunning Response to Shocking News

Photo by Lee Young on Unsplash

We gathered in our living room once a month – a dozen or so moms of foster and adopted children. We shared our latest family news, poured out our hearts and bore one anothers burdens through prayer. And in between monthly meetings, we encouraged each other through our private Facebook page. Sometimes we passed along tips. Sometimes we asked questions. And sometimes we wrote about our lives, leaning into the deeper lessons that God was teaching us through this beautiful, Biblical, and often difficult calling.

I was the old soul of the group – the mother of two young adults whom we adopted when they were toddlers. I had the privilege of hosting these dear women in our home, but they gave me a far greater gift. They taught me about the holiness of this call. They lived out the truth of James 1:27 that says,

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

 I was and still am in awe of the steadfast determination these women exhibit as they purpose to share the love of Christ with their littles. They go beyond that, though. They share it with their children’s birth parents, social workers and each other. I don’t think I saw it more clearly than I did through one particular interaction on our group page. One mom who was fairly new to fostering reached out to the group with concerns. She was seeing great struggles in her foster child, angst that was beginning to hurt the rest of her family and was alarming her. The outpouring of prayers and encouragement overwhelmed my heart, but one answer stopped me in my tracks. After briefly explaining the intricacies of parenting a traumatized child, this dear, experienced mama wrote:

“It’s so tiring, but it’s for Jesus so He’ll give you the strength, I promise.”

It’s for Jesus. So, He’ll give you the strength. I have to imagine that those same words frequently crossed the mind of Joseph, earthly father of Jesus. Not only did he have to endure the stares and sneers of judgmental onlookers when they saw that his betrothed was with child, but he also was called to raise the Son of God who also was God the Son. How does one parent God?

He did it the way my foster and adoptive friends do: he believed and obeyed.

  • Though his fiancé was pregnant and divorce was the logical response, he believed God and obeyed His command not to divorce her.
  • Though no evidence of a Holy Spirit conception existed before this, he believed God’s statement and obeyed His direction to welcome the child.
  • Though the idea of a baby saving his people from their sins seemed outlandish, he believed God’s declaration and obeyed. “He took (Mary as) his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”

God’s mission for Joseph was a heavy one – not for the faint of heart. My friends who share a similar calling to Joseph know that truth well. But they follow the admonishment of James. They take care of little souls born into stories they didn’t create, and invite them into God’s story of redemption. They free their minds of the whispers of the world – realizing their circumstances are just shifting sand – and they guard their souls from the stains of the world.

And we all can do the same. Friend, your calling might not be fostering or adopting. Your appointed field may be your workplace, your school or your neighborhood. God may have called you to very different, but equally demanding charges of either leading a ministry or upholding it through sacrificial financial support and prayer. Whatever the call, we can answer it well, because we know that God is bigger than the circumstances we see, and His plans are far greater than we can imagine. We must simply believe and obey, trusting all the while that “it’s for Jesus so He’ll give you the strength. I promise.”

— Linda R. Maynard (c) November 2019; revised 2022


— Linda R. Maynard © November 2019



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