And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. (NLT)
A young South African engineering student failed his final course exam and thus could not pursue his chosen career. An American nun was accepted into a creative writing course at College and then was suddenly withdrawn from it by the superior in her Order.
Dreams shattered, hopes dashed. The clear road ahead was suddenly overgrown and obstacle ridden. And yet that young budding engineer went on to become a very prominent Christian psychologist whose work has blessed many. And that nun intent on writing fiction became a well known spiritual director and writer of many non fiction books which have enriched the life journey of many.
Paul offers us another example of this sort of thing: good coming out of bad. He was under house arrest in Rome which was not what was on the top of his “to do” list. It might appear as if the work of the gospel was seriously hindered. But it was not. Those guarding him got a chance to hear about Jesus. Others who had been in the background had come forward to carry on the work of evangelism.
We all experience setbacks, things which come out of left field and threaten to derail us. Things which upset our neat and tidy plans and our confident expectations. The life pattern we are intent on weaving may yet be replaced with another different pattern. The master weaver is intent on bringing success out of failure, good out of bad.