Passage: Matthew 1:18-25
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Advent – Our Hearts, Christ’s Home
At Home In Our Disappointment
What do you do with your disappointment? When we look back we inevitably see areas of disappointment — in ourselves, our loved ones, and our situations. Advent is a season of longing, and longing encompasses our disappointment. Yet Jesus comes to make his home in our disappointment; with disappointment the Holy Spirit brings insight and conviction to propel our next step of obedience. This is what we see for Joseph in Matt 1:18–25, and this is what we see for our lives today.
First, God meets us even with disappointment (Matt 1:18–19). It is hard to imagine a more disappointing situation than Joseph’s situation as his legally betrothed wife was found to be pregnant. Our reaction to disappointment reveals our character, and Joseph “being a righteous man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (1:19). Joseph’s disappointment could have led to public shaming, but instead he chose the way of private honor. However great Joseph’s disappointment and character, though, God had a greater plan.
God not only meets us with disappointment, but the Holy Spirit brings insight to redirect this situation (Matt 1:20–21). In the midst of this disappointment an angel appears to Joseph, and this angel gives insight into God’s purpose behind the disappointment. In a seemingly terrible situation, the Holy Spirit is at work to accomplish God’s purposes: “She will bear a son, and you shall cal his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Similarly we need to discern what the Holy Spirit is doing in a given disappointment.
As the Holy Spirit not only brings insight but also conviction (Matt 1:22–23). The Holy Spirit brings conviction from God’s Word, as God works to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah had spoken: “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Matt 1:23; cf. Isa 7:14). This singular situation of disappointment is a reminder of much wider reality of God’s presence in our disappointment, for God is with us.
And this insight and conviction propels our next step of obedience (Matt 1:24–25). Joseph awakens from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him. Convictions and insight from God’s Word always propel obedience, even difficult steps of obedience. Even as people wondered and probably mocked Joseph for his pregnant fiancé, he kept silent and stayed obedient until his son was born.
Immanuel— God with us. This is at the center of the hope of Christmas. We sing of the little town of Bethlehem: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” While we picture a beautiful, idyllic little town of Bethlehem, present day Bethlehem is rife with violent and deep division between Israelis and Palestinians. And so in the first century, Bethlehem was far from idyllic. Yet in these less than idyllic circumstances, Jesus comes to demonstrate God is with us — even in our disappointment. And he is still with us, in our disappointment. This Christmas with disappointment may the Holy Spirit bring insight and conviction to propel us into our next step of obedience.