Maybe the Inconceivable Happens

The following is what I imagine a conversation might have been had between Joseph and a friend once Joseph resolves to marry, Mary. This is an imaginary conversation, obviously.  It is springing from what we read in Matthew 1:18-25:

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

A Conversation between Joseph and a “Friend”

Friend: “What???  You are carrying on just as before”

Joseph: “Yes I am”

F: “Why?”

J: “Because I believe that the child is someone special, and that Mary is innocent.”

F:  “Have you proved that?”

J: “No.”

F:  “Then how can you know for sure?”

J:  “I can’t.”

F: “Then why?”

J:  “Because God has asked me to believe it and to act on faith in what He says.”

F:  “That is inconceivable Joseph!”

J:  “Yes, it is, isn’t it?…But isn’t that like God?  Wasn’t it inconceivable for the barren fore-mothers of our nation to conceive and bear children, yet it happened.  And what if what we expect of God and His Messiah isn’t completely right?  After all, when Isaiah prophesized to Ahaz about a “son” being born to a woman of marriageable age, there was Isaiah’s own son that fit the bill…until the Assyrians came in….

Maybe what we expect to happen as usual, is really extraordinary….

…and what if the extraordinary is really usual?”

F:  “What are you talking about Joseph?”

J: “I’m not completely sure.  I only know that God has showed up in the past in unusual ways, and saved His people in unusual ways.  Maybe what we expect to happen, isn’t altogether right.  Maybe its not the way we think its supposed to be…but He still shows up nonetheless.  And that no one can deny.  Why should I deny this?”

F:  “So you’re just going to go forward, pretending?”

J: “No!  This is not pretending.  This is taking it on faith that what God has said is true and worthy of my response.”

F:  “And that’s easy for you?”

J: “No!  It isn’t!  Are you kidding me?  Do you know what its like to walk down the streets and here the whispers under people’s breaths?  ‘Slut’.  ‘Tramp’. ‘Whore’.  Do you not think I hear that?  Do you not think I find myself saying that in my head myself?  Do you not think I have considered divorce?…

…. Or what about what I hear people saying about me?  ‘Sinner’, ‘Unrighteous’. ‘Imbecile’.  ‘Idiot’. ‘Second-class’. ‘White-trash’. Do you not think I hear those things either?  No!  I carry those words and those thoughts every day of my life.  You ask if this is easy?  I assure you it is anything but.”

F:  “Then why do it?”

J: “Because maybe…just maybe, the inconceivable is just what is appropriate.  Maybe…just maybe, the problem we have is not just that our circumstances are such that they are – that we are held captive by a foreign nation.  We tend to locate the problem ‘out there’.  ‘It’s the Romans; lets get rid of them.’  Before, it was the Babylonians, Assyrians, Canaanites, etc…  Well, ‘friend’, do you not realize we have been saying that same thing from before we ever became a nation?”

F:  “What do you mean, Joseph?”

J: “What I mean is that is exactly what Adam did back in Eden.”

F:  “Explain?”

J: “When God came to Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit, and after He asked where they were because they were hiding because of their shame, He then asked Adam, ‘What have you done?’  And do you remember what Adam’s response was?”

F:  “Sure, it was ‘we ate the fruit we weren’t supposed to’.”

J: “No!  Friend.  His response was ‘the woman you gave me deceived me…’  Adam located the problem of his disobedience onto others.  Eve for sure.  And look at how men have historically treated women ever since. They are inferior.  They are to blame.  We tell ourselves that if I cheat on my wife its because she has ‘Daddy’ issues and I just need a break.  Or she’s incapable of understanding my needs, so I take the initiative in my own hands to satisfy myself.  We justify our treatment of women because after all, they are to blame!…

…And then we blame God!  ‘You’re the one who set this whole thing in motion.  Now where are you?’  ‘Why have you made us to do this wicked thing, God.’  ‘Why have you allowed us to suffer.’  ‘Why are you so evil, God, to let this all happen and not get rid of the problem?’.”

F:  “And what’s so wrong with that Joseph?”

J: “What’s wrong is that maybe we’ve misjudged where the problem lies.  Maybe we’ve determined that the problem lies ‘out there’, outside of ourselves….

….Maybe, just maybe, the problem is with us….

…and God hasn’t gotten rid of the problem because He still loves ‘the problem’, even when it doesn’t make any sense for him to do so.  Maybe God knows something of having to deal with the dilemma of the people He loves betraying Him, and yet He still chooses ‘what is difficult all one’s days/as if it were easy’ [Auden, “For the Time Being”, found in his Collected Poems]….

…Maybe, just maybe, the exceptional is really usual…

….Maybe, just maybe, the exceptional is really the way its supposed to be…

…because deeper problems need exceptional solutions…

…after all, the inconceivable happens.”


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