Something that seems to always get overlooked in the story of Mary and Joseph is the portion of time between when Mary tells Joseph that she's pregnant with the Lord incarnate, he doesn't believe her, plans to divorce her quietly, and when the angel tells Joseph it's all true.
Matthew 1:18-24 gives a brief overlook of the birth of Jesus and includes this lapse of time when Joseph thought his fiancee cheated on him.
The part that seems to get shuffled over is that Mary and Joseph must have both been absolutely devastated. Mary gets the most incredible news of her entire life, the most privileged position, and she can't share her initial overwhelming excitement with the man she's in love with. She must have been terrified.
Think about stepping into in those 33 B.C. sandals for a hot minute:
Mary is pregnant, and Joseph, who will be the provider for her and her future child, doesn't believe her when she says she doesn't have a secret baby daddy and now he wants to divorce her. This is the man she's absolutely in love with. Imagine that conversation she had to have with him. She told him the story of Gabriel visiting, that she was still faithful to her fiancée and her vows to wait for her husband, she must have told him how excited and terrified and bewildered she was that God had chosen her, and Joseph didn’t believe her. Imagine being in his place, seeing the woman he loves expecting, knowing there’s not a chance that he’s the father, and trying to scramble to put the pieces together. Was she crazy? Did she have an affair and come up with some ridiculous cover up story?
I can’t imagine anyone being left without a broken heart after this all had taken place.
The Bible gives no exact timeline for how long it was before Joseph had a chat with an angel of the Lord, but I can almost garauntee you, it probably felt like years for this couple.
This period of time is only briefly narrated and doesn’t contain many details, but the feelings of infedility and betrayal don’t mix well with a pregnant woman’s feelings of abandonment, lonliness, and fear, so it’s safe to assume, these weren’t happy days. If I was Mary, I’ve always imagined I would feel so scared of being alone, not necessarily even by Joseph, but I would be so afraid that God had somehow forgotten me, that God wasn’t loyal, that He wasn’t faithful.
But Mary was a woman who loved the Lord, a woman who God favored and favored highly. She had committed to the Lord to mother the savior of all mankind, and she was in no matter what fears, tears, and broken hearts were tossed in her face. Mary was just getting started with her faithful, lifetime, ministry commitment to her son, and it started off with a very broken heart.
Some of the very hardest times to trust God is with a broken heart. It's hard to feel like He's there, present with you when it hurts so deeply that you feel like you can't breath. It's hard to believe He has a plan that's greater than all other plans for you when it seems like you're completely alone and you don't even want to get out of bed because the pain is so strong. But our God is not a God who abandons. Our God adopts us into sonship. He is faithful. He is loving beyond understanding. He loves you so much that He sent his son to be born through this woman to live the life you could never live and die the death that you deserve so that you can be forever forgiven and spend this life and the next with Him. That's not the heart of an abandoning, drop-out dad who forgets you. That is the heart of a Father who loves you relentlessly, even when you feel alone and forsaken.
Some of the best advice that I ever received was to live with the attitude and mindset of a son, not an orphan. Orphans are without a parent, they have to worry about who will provide for them, what their future will be like, they don't have someone always there to comfort and love them in the darkest of times. A son has a Father. A son doesn't have to worry about where his food comes from, where he will stay, who will provide for him, because he has a Father who takes care of it all for him. They have an inheritance, a bright future. When everything turns upside-down and everything goes dark, a son knows he has a Father who will come to his rescue and take care of his every need.
Broken hearts feel like the end. Telling someone the truth and them not believing you is a terrible feeling. Mary was facing the bleakest and darkest of times, all alone. She probably felt like she was losing everything important to her: family, who thought she had dishonored them by being an unwed mother, her fiance, her reputation, it was all quickly collapsing. But Mary fiercely loved God, and she was a daughter, with an inheritance in the Lord, and a Heavenly Father who was going to take care of her, even in the bleak, hopeless, broken-hearted moments.