Have you ever had a season where it just seemed like anything that could go wrong has gone wrong? I know that I have. I have had times as a believer that I felt like the best option I had was to cry out like Elijah “just kill me Lord”. Then as I turned to God to allow him to heal my heart another thing would happen. I know I am not alone in this. Whether it is financial situations, relationships, lack of relationships, work, family, or the car that won’t stop breaking down, I know you have lived a season of nonstop arrows into your camp. Do you want to know how I know this? Because the world is watching. They are waiting to see how you as a believer, who has the hope of glory living within you, will react to the setbacks of life.
Let’s look at Paul in Acts 27. He had just been put on trial in front of Festus, a Roman court judge in Caesarea, because of the accusations made by his own Jewish people. Paul appeals to Ceasar and Festus grants his request which starts Paul’s long journey to Rome. He is placed in the custody of Roman soldiers and is put on a boat with several other prisoners. The journey was hard due to weather conditions. Everyone on the boat was fearful as a northeaster took them out into the sea without any control of the ship. They eventually become shipwrecked on the island of Malta where the life of Paul and the other prisoners are spared by Roman soldiers who originally wanted to kill them to ensure they would not escape.
At the beginning of Acts 28 Paul makes an account of how nice the people of Malta were. He tells how the people of the island built a fire for them to get warm from the cold rainy weather. Then, this happens: “As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand” Acts 28: (NLT). Can you believe that? After being beaten for his faith, falsely accused, imprisoned, almost dies at sea, gets shipwrecked, now he gets bit by a venomous snake just because he is trying to get warm! He did nothing to deserve it. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
The next few verses then say: “The people of the island saw it (the snake) hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed” Acts 28:4-5 (NLT). Let’s look past the fact that the people miss judged and focus on that last verse: “Paul shook off the snake and was unharmed”. He was unharmed because his focus was never on the snake. He was never focused on the enemy when he was beaten or when he was falsely imprisoned. His focus was not on how unfair the situation was when he nearly died at sea. His focus was always Jesus. His focus is what brought about his survival.
I went through all of this story just to make this one point, Sometimes the snake bites. Sometimes it does not matter how devoted we are to the Lord, how deeply rooted we are in his love, how we look after the orphans and the widows. We still end up getting bitten by a venomous snake. My question to you is, do you focus on it? Do you complain to everyone around you about how you try and do everything right and everything still goes wrong? Or do you shake the snake off into the fire? I am not saying that there are not situations that are heartbreaking that we need time to heal in, I am saying where is your focus? Is it on Jesus who thought that you were so amazing and cared enough to give his life for you? If your focus is on Jesus then you can walk away unharmed, but if you choose to give that nasty snake any of your attention then you better be prepared to have some of that bitter venom enter your bloodstream. The attention that you give to your negative circumstances is not worth the death of your hope and focus on Jesus.
Then there are the people around you who are watching you, They want to see if you will work out your salvation with the faith you claim to have. After Paul was bitten it says that “The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.” Acts 23:6 (NLT). Paul then found a man who was sick in the village and healed him and many more. I am not saying that we want people to think that we are gods, but we do want to respond to life in a way that they mistaken us for him, so we can, in turn, introduce them to our Father.
So, My sweet brothers and sisters, let this be an encouragement. In life we have trials and snakes will bite us, but Jesus says in Luke 10:19 “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you” (NLT). We will not be injured if we just keep our eyes on who Jesus is and what he has said over us. Then not only can we walk away unharmed from a battle with a snake but we can show others that it is pos
Featured Image by Erin Ramsey