Finding Joy in Obedience: Mary and Joseph’s Submission to God’s Will


In the grand narrative of Christianity, the figures of Mary and Joseph stand as testaments to the transformative power of faith and obedience. Their story, particularly surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, offers profound lessons on finding joy and purpose in surrendering to a higher calling.

Facing Unforeseen Challenges: A Test of Faith

The biblical accounts depict Mary as a young woman betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. Their lives were likely filled with the ordinary hopes and dreams of a young couple. Then, the extraordinary intervened. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing her divinely ordained role as the mother of the Messiah. This message, while momentous, was undoubtedly met with fear and confusion. Social expectations and potential societal condemnation would have weighed heavily on a young, unmarried woman.

Joseph, upon learning of Mary’s pregnancy, also faced a heart-wrenching dilemma. Betrayal and public humiliation were real possibilities. Yet, both Mary and Joseph, in their separate moments of crisis, chose to submit to God’s will.

The Power of “Fiat”: Mary’s Unwavering Trust

Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), is a powerful testament to her unwavering trust in God. The word “fiat” in Latin translates to “let it be done,” signifying Mary’s complete surrender to God’s plan. This act of obedience wasn’t passive; it required immense courage and unwavering faith.

Joseph’s Quiet Strength: Obedience Through Action

While the Gospels are less explicit about Joseph’s internal struggles, his actions speak volumes. An observant Jew, he would have been well aware of the potential social and legal repercussions of Mary’s pregnancy. Yet, a divinely prompted dream (Matthew 1:20-24) led him to accept Mary as his wife and become the protector and provider for the holy family. His obedience wasn’t a mere acceptance of fate; it was a proactive choice to fulfill his role in God’s grand design.

Finding Purpose in Obedience: Lessons Learned

The stories of Mary and Joseph offer valuable insights into the transformative power of obedience:

  • Trusting in a Higher Plan: Even in the face of uncertainty and fear, Mary and Joseph surrendered to a plan far greater than their own. Their faith allowed them to find comfort and purpose in the divine will.
  • Embracing Challenges as Opportunities: The challenges they faced weren’t roadblocks, but opportunities to demonstrate their unwavering faith. Their obedience became a catalyst for a chain of events that would change the course of human history.
  • Finding Strength in Unity: While Mary and Joseph faced their challenges individually, their shared faith and obedience created a powerful bond. Together, they navigated the difficulties and embraced their divinely ordained roles.

Following Mary and Joseph’s Example in Our Own Lives

While the circumstances we face may not be as dramatic as those of Mary and Joseph, the core principle of finding joy in obedience remains relevant. Here’s how we can emulate their example:

  • Discerning God’s Will: While a heavenly messenger may not appear to us, we can cultivate a sense of inner peace and openness to God’s guidance through prayer, reflection, and studying scripture.
  • Finding Faith in the Unknown: Life is full of uncertainties. By strengthening our faith, we can learn to trust that even in challenging times, God is guiding us.
  • Taking Action with a Willing Heart: Obedience isn’t simply passive acceptance; it’s actively aligning our actions with what we believe is right.
  • Finding Strength in Community: Just as Mary and Joseph found support in each other, we can find strength and encouragement in our faith communities.

A Legacy of Faith and Obedience

The stories of Mary and Joseph serve as a beacon of hope, reminding us that true joy can be found in surrendering to something bigger than ourselves. Their unwavering obedience, in the face of immense challenges, transformed the world. By following their example, we can cultivate a deeper sense of purpose and navigate life’s uncertainties with greater faith and trust.