Have you ever experienced a moment when your dream becomes a nightmare and you find yourself in the starring role? Have you ever asked, “Why?” We all have! Let me show you a better alternative than asking “Why?” I want to point out the witness of a man named Joseph. He saw his dreams fall into a million pieces at his feet. What happened in his life is worth studying, and his story may help you and me when our dreams are shattered. 


A. It was a time of excitement. Mary and Joseph were engaged to one another. The ancient Hebrew engagement period was as binding as marriage. Surely they were excited about their future together as husband and wife.

B. It was a time of expectation. The Bible tells us that the news from the angel took place before the engagement period was over. Surely they were both counting the days until they could be together and live together as husband and wife.

C. It was a time of embarrassment. It was during this time that Joseph learned that his bride-to-be was pregnant. This would have been a source of great embarrassment to Mary and to Joseph, as well as to their respective families. It seemed that all the dreams Joseph had for the future had been shattered by this devastating news.


A. Joseph’s character is revealed. In the midst of this very difficult situation, Joseph’s true self was revealed. We are told that he was a “just” man. This simply means that he was blameless under the Law and that he walked by faith in the Lord. He was a man of God before these events befell him, and what he was in his heart came to the surface in his trials. 

B. Joseph’s choices are revealed. Joseph had three choices: 

1. He could publicly humiliate Mary because of her perceived immorality. This choice could possibly lead to her death under the Law (Deut. 22:13-21).

2. He could divorce her quietly and walk away, leaving her to raise the child in shame and poverty.

3. He could marry her and raise her child as his own. A Jewish man would rarely have chosen this option.

C. Joseph’s compassion is revealed. Joseph decided to react to Mary with compassion. This was not an easy decision, but it was a decision that was in Mary’s best interests. Instead of making a public example out of her and perhaps even bringing about her death, Joseph decided to deal with her in a quiet manner. 


I find it interesting that the Lord did not answer Joseph’s prayer for direction until after Joseph had reached a decision on his own. Sometimes the Lord allows us to exhaust all our human reasoning before He gives us divine insight into the situation we are facing.

A. It was a declaration of divine providence. As these thoughts troubled Joseph’s mind, the Lord sent an angel to speak to him in a dream. The angel brought Joseph words of explanation, exaltation, and exhilaration. Joseph was made to understand the origin of the child his bride carried. He was made to understand that his dream (the dream that, in his mind, had turned into a nightmare) was really a miraculous work of God.

B. It was a declaration of divine provisions. Joseph received details of a miracle that much of the world still hasn’t grasped: God entered this world through the womb of a Jewish virgin! Joseph was told that Mary would have a son and that this son was to be named Jesus. Surely Joseph didn’t know all the details about the miracle child his bride was carrying, but he knew enough to be sure that this child was a divine provision for the sins of the world. 

C. It was a declaration of divine presentations. Joseph was shown that the child Mary carried in her womb was none other than the Deliverer for whom the world had waited since man sinned in the Garden of Eden (see Gen. 3:15). This baby was to be the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies. Joseph was allowed to see that his hurt, anger, and confusion were necessary to bring about the greatest miracle the world has ever known: God becoming flesh and entering the world to die as a man (John 1:1; 14; Phil. 2:5-8).

When your dreams are shattered, when your plans are derailed, and when your hopes are destroyed, remember that although it may look bleak from your perspective, God is working out His perfect will in your life. Just walk forward, one step at a time. You will arrive at the place where your questions are answered and your needs are met—in His time!


A. Joseph’s quick reaction. As soon as Joseph understood what was happening in his life, he reacted in faith. He took Mary into his home and into his heart as his wife. His was a response of pure faith. He still didn’t know how things would work out, but he knew that God was working. That was enough for Joseph.

B. Joseph’s qualified restraint. Joseph may have taken Mary into his home, but he refrained from having sexual relations with her. He respected God’s plan and knew that she was to be a virgin when Jesus was born. This, too, was a response of faith. Instead of demanding what was rightfully his as Mary’s husband, he willingly set aside his rights so that the will of God might be accomplished! 

C. Joseph’s quiet resolve. Joseph waited patiently until Mary gave birth to her son. No doubt Joseph cared for the expectant mother as best he could. When the time came and the baby was born, Joseph did his job as a father and named the boy Jesus. Naming the child was the father’s responsibility (Luke 1:63). In naming the baby as God instructed, Joseph was saying that he was willing to embrace God’s plan for his life, even though he didn’t fully understand it. He was willing to raise this child as his own, even though he knew the baby was not his son. 


When your dreams are shattered, your plans are derailed, and your hopes are destroyed, remember that while it may look bleak from your perspective, God is working out His perfect will in your life. We may not like it when the Lord allows our hopes and dreams to be crushed, but when all is said and done, we will see that His plan was perfect all along! Are you willing to commit your dreams and plans to the Lord?

General Conference Ministerial Association