There is an interesting view of calamity that develops when one thinks about the apostle Paul. In prison because of his profession of Christ, Paul’s friends, acquaintances, fellow workers, fellow believers, and members of scattered congregations that he had helped start, are panicked and worried. They probably believe that his imprisonment had stymied the gospel. While Paul languishes in jail, the gospel is being imprisoned too, or so it would seem. Jesus will still be preached, and his grace will continue to be proclaimed and shared, but the loss of the great missionary is a profound blow to the proclamation of the good news. That would be a prevailing view.
Yeah God works in mysterious ways as we say. Everything that should’ve held the good news down, lifted it up. Everything that should bury the good news of the gospel, served to unearth it’s treasure further. Paul says even if he is in chains, the gospel isn’t. Even if he is in prison, the gospel isn’t. It had, as we pray in one of the collects of our church, free course and was not bound. In fact Paul’s imprisonment seems to have made an impact greater than had he been out and about preaching to a few. The fact that he was in prison, the reason for his being in prison, and the people who were around him in prison became a multiplier effect that serve the good news.
Luther had an interesting view of the relationship of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the opposition that the world seems to hold to it. He said, “the fiercer the world rages against the gospel, the better the business of the gospel succeeds”. Things that seem to want to hurt the gospel, or contain it, often make it spread and grow.
People often look back at calamity such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and as they recall the horror, the fear, the feeling that they’ve been punched in the stomach and they were walking around in the end of the world, they will also say things like “it was the best thing that ever happened to us”.
Right now our task as Christians is to help in anyway we can with the disasters that have befallen our brothers and sisters around the world. We can pray with them, commiserate with them, but always hold in our hearts the belief that God will turn this around and bless it for our good and theirs. The witness of the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit, is that all things really do work for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.