Disaster to Salvation
scriptures say it so quickly and casually that it is possible
for us to overlook the crisis and the chaos that it must have
caused: “Mary was found to be with child.” What must Joseph
have felt when he discovered that Mary was with child? Shock,
devastation, betrayal. He knew he was not the father. What
hurt he must have felt when he supposed that this woman who
he so treasured and loved, had been unfaithful to him, That
hurt must have driven him close to despair. And as a person
of faith, it is likely he turned to God to complain: “God
where are you? Why have you let this happen to me? Have I
not served you well? Do I not pray regularly in the temple
and follow all of your commands? Did you not know that my
heart was set on sharing my life in marriage with this woman
who I so loved and who I was convinced you had given me as
my spouse? Now it is all ruined.
my life is shattered, my hope is gone. My God, my God, why
have you abandoned me?”
in time, Joseph learned that Mary had not been unfaithful,
that his life was not ruined, and that his marriage could
proceed, although on terms he had never imagined. The message
of the angel made that all clear, in time. But in that first
moment when Joseph found out that Mary was with child, he
certainly presumed that all was lost, that God was absent
experience of Joseph tells us that God is working in ways
which are not immediately clear. God has a plan which is unfolding,
but that unfolding takes time. Therefore some of the things
which seem like complete disasters can, in time, lead to goodness
and life. When Joseph heard that Mary was pregnant, he was
convinced that his life was ruined. But it was, in fact, the
first step in the salvation of the world.
light of this story of Joseph, we must be slow to judge when
evil attacks us. Although God is always at work, it takes
time to perceive what God is doing. Now this stance of faith
in no way denies the reality and power of evil in our world.
Sickness, tragedy, violence, and death are real. They do attack
us and hurt us. But even as they press in against us, the
person of faith continues to believe that God is in charge.
God is active, and yet what God is doing is not completely
clear. We cannot yet predict the exact way in which God is
going to bring goodness in our lives.
when we receive bad news in our family, in school, at our
job, it is appropriate to be in shock and to cope. But at
the same time, the person of faith believes that those disasters
will not derail God's plan of life for us. When we make foolish
choices or disastrous mistakes, we have to admit our failure
and live with the consequences of our decisions. But even
as we do so, we continue to believe that God is with us, guiding
us to learn from our mistakes and to avoid them in the future.
When someone we love is attacked by sickness or death, we
are rightfully shocked and discouraged. But we continue to
believe that God will provide opportunities for love, for
reconciliation, and for growth.
of us who know the story of Joseph know how radically things
can change as time passes and God's plan becomes clear. Evil,
sickness and death will always be a part of our lives. But
the Christian knows how to face them. Even as they press in
against us, we face the future with hope because we believe
that the present moment is only a part of the plan that God
has in store for us. Although the present moment is a disaster,
it can lead to goodness and life. When the present situation
is a total loss, it is still somehow a part of our salvation.