Mary and Joseph Reflect: Cooperation in marriage

During the month of December, my husband Joe and I will share some thoughts on marriage. We know it’s no small feat that we have been married 37 years and we want to point others to the source of our strength: Jesus Christ.

This is a month when so many focus on Jesus. Plus, we want to have a little fun playing up the fact that our names are the same as His parents’ names. We make no claim to be at their level of faith and obedience, but we do believe that lessons from the Bible offer all of us guidance for our own journey of faith, both individually and as couples.

Mary and Joseph of the Bible definitely inspire me with their cooperation with God and each other. The birth of Christ would not have been possible without a cooperating couple. They had to be willing to live in a spiritual dimension, to hear and obey the voices of angels, and to accept the will of God as it unfolded. They needed faith, courage, and character.

When Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants,” she was cooperating with God by being a woman of deep faith. (Luke 1.38 TLB)

When Joseph wanted to protect Mary from public shame, he was cooperating with God by being a man of deep character. “Being a man of stern principle, [he] decided to break the engagement but to do it quietly as he didn’t want to publicly disgrace her.” (Matthew 1.19 TLB)

We all know how the story unfolds:

The cooperation required to travel together by donkey to Bethlehem.

The cooperation required to share in that barn birth.

The cooperation required to pack up and escape to Egypt to protect their child.

Every couple has stories to tell of how cooperation made hard times easier and heavy burdens lighter. We can also identify times when failing to cooperate – bickering, avoiding, and blaming – made matters worse.

Over the past year, Joe and I have spent some time talking about the ways we failed to cooperate with one another through the years, to value each others’ needs, to talk through unresolved issues. These failures definitely put a wedge between us, nearly ruining the life we vowed to build on our wedding day.

We have experienced God’s great mercy in spite of these trials and we are grateful. And we encourage you to take time to read the story of the birth of Jesus and focus on the cooperating couples, including Elizabeth and Zechariah. God chose these couples to usher in a plan of salvation, rescue, and restoration for us and for our families.

From one generation to another, he shows mercy to those who honor him.

Luke 1.50 GNT

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