a “real” dad

Image of Joseph Holding Baby Jesus

Read: Matthew 1:18-25

Reflect: Derek King thought about this passage of Scripture for a long time. He reflected on how Mary became pregnant without any assistance from Joseph. How her name became synonymous with “the mother of God” and how each generation venerated her, because, after all, she was the mother of Jesus. He has wondered where Joseph stood in all of this.

Derek is a man who has shared in this feeling of separation, of being less than a father, and simply being a tool in God’s overall plan. You see, Derek and his wife decided to go the route of embryo adoption. Instead of adopting a fully developed child, they adopted an embryo. Some of the ethical issues are still being worked out (like what happens when one of the embryos is not adopted, is that embryo adopted by someone else, and what happens to the embryo if it isn’t adopted, what do they do with it at that point).  These questions and more are being studied.

did joseph face a similar struggle?

In the meantime, Derek is more concerned with how to answer the more basic question. Derek’s wife carried each of her babies in her womb and thus she was able to forge an emotional bond, even though it is not a biological bond. Derek shares neither a biological, genetic, or a birth connection with his children. When it is a regular adoption, the father and mother can share in the obvious and sometimes awkward questions about the child, but in an embryo adoption, that doesn’t happen.  Derek writes, “I wonder if Joseph faced a similar struggle?”

“real father” material

Before we can answer that question, we need to answer another one: Was Joseph a “real father”? Before one can become a real father, he needs to be a real man, a man who loves and cherishes his wife, just as Christ loved the church. Joseph was “real father” material because of how he handled his encounter with the angel. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife.” (vs. 20) Not only was he to take her home, but he was told that she had conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was even supposed to name this child!

who do i trust?

Joseph obeyed this without question. He did all of this, not only because he was a good man, but he was a righteous man. Here was a man who had so many questions floating around in his head. But there was one question he did not have: “Who do I trust when nothing else is making sense, and who do I turn to, when all those around me are saying just the opposite?” Joseph chose to trust in God!

joseph provided jesus with love

Derek wondered if Joseph faced a similar struggle to Derek’s own. Perhaps. But I am sure it only lasted minutes, not hours or days or even weeks. Joseph was too busy being the father of Jesus. He taught him the skill of carpentry, he took him to worship, he provided a home for him and food and clothing. Most important of all, Joseph provided Jesus with love, the only kind a “father” can give.

thanking god the original plans fell through

Derek remembered the many times he and his wife were disappointed with infertility and the waiting process. Each birth announcement from a young couple would drive the knife in a little bit more. Derek responds with, “But I thank God our original plans fell through. I can’t imagine our lives any other way.” As I read the story of Derek, I am reminded that Christmas is an unbelievable story, where a child had a miraculous birth, and two parents, who in their own way, offer hope for a lost and dying world!

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