Often we want to get around troubles and challenges in life rather than go through them.  If only we could skip from the beginning to the end without going through the middle. But challenges can be opportunities for growth.

I think about the fast-approaching feast of St. Joseph. As the son of an immigrant itinerant German carpenter who died almost on this date 50 years ago, I focus on Joseph’s challenges.

Walk with me to understand what we can learn from St. Joseph and the challenges he faced.

A word about challenges

A search engine led me to an unsigned article about coping with challenges – Be Here and Now.

Three of the coping strategies caught my eye

  • Embrace your life as it is rather than as you wish it to be.
  • Accept success and failure as part of life’s journey
  • Tend to your loving relationships.

Some of Joseph’s Challenges

St. Joseph, A simple carpenter, faced a number of significant challenges throughout his life with Mary and Jesus.

The Challenge of Faith

One of the most significant challenges he faced was the challenge of faith. When he learned that Mary was pregnant, he faced a difficult decision.

He could have publicly accused her of adultery and had her stoned to death, as was the custom of the time. Alternatively, he could have quietly divorced her, which would have spared her life but would have brought shame and scandal upon her and her family.

Instead, St. Joseph chose a third option.

He listened to the angel who appeared to him in a dream and accepted God’s plan for his life and the life of his family. He put aside his doubts and fears and embraced his role as the earthly father of her son.

The Challenge of Protection

St. Joseph was entrusted with the protection of Mary and Jesus.  They faced the dangers and uncertainties of their time.

To protect them, he had to flee with them to Egypt when King Herod ordered the massacre of the innocents. He had to ensure their safety and well-being in a foreign land. Later, he had to bring them back to Nazareth and provide for them as a carpenter. Being a carpenter required hard work and dedication.

What prepared him for this challenge?

The Challenge of Fatherhood

How do you raise and guide a child who was both human and divine?

I wonder when he became more deeply aware of Jesus as the “word made flesh.” When Jesus remained behind in the temple in Jerusalem, it was clear they did not yet understand so much.

Scripture tells us “Jesus grew in wisdom, age, and grace” I wonder how one teaches the “word made flesh” to grow as a man. Joseph only knew the current expectations of men in Palestine.

I suspect there were many times as he was growing when Jesus when Joseph wondered if he was doing things right.

However, I think through it all Joseph tended to his loving relationship’s with Mary… Jesus … and his God.

What can we learn from Joseph?

His challenge of faith teaches us the importance of trusting in God’s plan, even when it is not easy or clear to understand.

The challenge of protection teaches us the importance of caring for and protecting vulnerable people. Like St. Joseph, we may be called to care for those in danger or need our help. This may involve sacrifices or risks, but it is crucial to our call to love and serve others.

Overall, the challenges faced by St. Joseph remind us of the difficulties and uncertainties that can come with a life of faith and obedience.

St. Joseph walk with us in our challenges.

  • What are the challenges you face?
  • In what way can St. Joseph inspire you?