If you live in what is called the First World, you probably worry about car repairs, money for college for you or your kids, being downsized at work, or other life-altering issues.
If you live in the Third World, you wonder when you will eat next, if you will get ill and die from a waterborne disease, an insect-transmitted killer or be a victim of one of the many ethnic wars.
Life altering versus life ending, that’s a difference. Yet, even so, we all yearn for the peace, the safety, and the security that we will experience once we are in heaven. One man who can relate to our concerns is Saint Joseph, so much so that perhaps he should be given the title The Patron Saint of Worriers.
Why Saint Joseph? Consider these events in his life. His betrothed is found pregnant. He loves her dearly and does not want to see her stoned to death yet the law requires it. Then he finds out the child she is carrying is the Messiah!
An order from the king requires him and Mary, now far on in the pregnancy, to travel along bandit-infested roads for the census. Upon arriving in Bethlehem, there is no room at the Inn.
Once the child is born, they take him to the Temple for His dedication. There a Prophet predicts a sword will pierce his wife’s heart.
Later, he is roused from sleep with a message to flee to Egypt as Herod wants to kill the child.
Again they journey through bandit-infested territory. They reach Egypt where they are strangers in a strange land. Joseph has to start from scratch as a carpenter to provide for his family.
After some years in Egypt, he is told it is safe to return, however, Herod’s nephew is now on the throne and he is a threat to Jesus.
They travel to the Temple when Jesus is twelve years old and He gets lost for three days during the return journey.
These are the problems we know about from the Bible. Are there more?
Since Joseph was a real human being doing his best to do God’s will, we can reasonably assume he met with other challenges not written about in Scripture.
And yet, through it all, Joseph remained attentive to God’s guidance for his life.
This attentiveness is often described as the interior life. It is where we hear God speak to us with our soul and not our ears. To be able to do that, we must find time for silence. Remember, Elijah heard God not in the Earthquake but in the faint breeze.
Of course, there are those of us who need a two by four across the skull to get our attention. But it is less painful to slow down and pay attention.
Joseph was alert to God as he slept when God spoke to him in his dreams. Is it possible he was alert as he worked in his shop? I think so. As Joseph shaped a piece of wood (maybe a two by four) for a project, his mind concentrating on his work, he remained open to God’s promptings. He did not need a smack on the head for God to get his attention.
Joseph worked for his family, finding blessed distraction in his labors when problems were present. But more than the work, his certainty that God would care for them, kept him grounded.
Joseph faced ample opportunities to succumb to fear and doubt yet he stayed the course. He did so while not always understanding all that was happening or being certain of a specific outcome. He just knew that God was in charge and it was his job to do the next task at hand.
Worry was handled by obedience to the promptings of the Spirit. That is a method we can all use.
If we have trouble implementing it, we should ask Saint Joseph for his assistance. He has the experience to lend us a helping ear to hear what God is trying to tell us.
That message sounds something like, “Let not your heart be troubled.”