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To learn what trust means, look to St Joseph

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Maronite icon written by Fr Abdo Badwi (USEK, Lebanon) tells the great story of the Revelation to Joseph. IMAGE: sjmaronite.org

By Joseph Boulos

\What does it mean to trust in God? I remember asking my spiritual director this question when was going through a period of stubborn anxiety about my future was feeling afraid.

In hindsight, our worries and fears seem so silly and pointless. But in the moment, we can’t help but feel lonely and helpless. We believe in God, yet we ask, “Do you hear me, my God? Do you see me?”

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So often we read in the Scriptures, and the writings of the saints, that we need to trust in God. This is easier said than done when we feel the crushing desolation that often comes with uncertainty and unanswered prayers.

This week in the Maronite Church, we celebrate the Sunday of the Revelation to Joseph. In St Joseph, we see a man whose future was turned upside down by the news that his betrothed, Mary, was pregnant before they had come together (Mt 1:18).

I think we neglect to meditate on the anguish Joseph must have felt reflecting on this news before resolving to send Mary away quietly because he was unwilling to expose her to shame (1:19).

The Church Fathers have differing views on what Joseph thought. But whether Joseph doubted Mary or—in having an intuition of the sacred mystery within her –believed himself unworthy to be her husband. We can rest in the knowledge that his discernment would have been distressing!

We might ask similar questions he could have asked himself: What should I do? What if I make the wrong decision? What if I hurt the person or people I love? What if I disappoint God? When should I decide? Am I worthy?

St Matthew tells us that as St Joseph considered these things, an angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (1:20). Without a moment’s hesitation, Joseph awoke from his sleep and “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (1:24).

Without knowing the extent of what he would experience by accepting his vocation, Joseph gave his own “yes” to God with an unspoken simplicity and humility.

Undoubtedly he understood that the journey would be difficult: the enormous responsibility of protecting and providing for the infant saviour of the world and of being husband and guardian of Mary.

Yet despite all this, he still obeyed God’s will, showing us what trusting in God really means.

It is not something that requires eloquent words, lengthy prayers or a grand performance. All that is required on our part is to silently surrender ourselves to whatever God wills.
Trust begins the moment we stop counting the cost of what we think we will lose and start to accept, with simplicity and humility, whatever comes from God’s hands.

Overthinking is living in the future. We do not live in the future. God wants us to be present in the present, because we cannot change the past and the future is not in our hands.

Any good parent suffers when their child suffers. When God the Father sees us scared and afraid, he is moved by a profound paternal desire to take away our fears.

He may not reveal the future to us because in his wisdom he sees all things and knows what is best for us at the right time. All we need to know is that everything will be okay.

He is in control and he will take care of us. After all, Jesus did say to us, “Therefore do not be anxious…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:31, 33-34).

Joseph Boulos is coordinator of UniMaronite, an intervarsity movement that helps tertiary students grow in their Maronite faith.

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