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When your life is a shipwreck, God is still working: Lessons from Pope Francis


God is more than able to transform misfortune into opportunity!

Pope Francis started the New Year’s general audiences by continuing his catechesis series on Acts of the Apostles, and the lesson he gave this Wednesday could be summarized: Even when your life is a shipwreck, don’t doubt that God’s in control.

The pope drew this message from Acts 27, where Paul is going to be transferred to Rome by ship, and — even though Paul has warned them that the timing was bad — the centurion sets out. When the weather comes and the ship is in dire straits after many days of suffering, Paul gives the sailors this message:

Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.

I now bid you take heart; for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and lo, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’

So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.

Pope Francis thus pointed out how God is directing the situation, even when all seemed lost:

Luke thus shows us that the plan that guides Paul towards Rome saves not only the apostle, but also his traveling companions; and the shipwreck transforms from a situation of misfortune to a providential opportunity for the proclamation of the Gospel.

Thus, said the Holy Father, citing his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, we have here a lesson from Paul on how to endure life’s trials and difficulties:

Paul teaches us to live through trials by staying close to Christ, in order to develop the “conviction that God is able to act in every situation, even amid apparent setbacks” and the certainty “that all those who entrust themselves to God in love will bear good fruit.”

He concluded by suggesting we pray that God will “help us to live every trial sustained by the energy of faith.”

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