Something has happened to you. Something unfair. Something unfortunate. Something you weren’t prepared for. However if you focus on what has happened to you here, you will lose sight of how God can now use you for his ultimate good.
Honey, this is bigger than what went wrong for you. This is bigger than the plans that fell apart. This is bigger than the disappointment you have endured and the problem you have encountered. What is beyond this?
The very wound you have experienced here can be used for God’s goodness next. The part of you that was hurt the most is now the vessel for God’s supreme power.
In Acts 27, we read that Paul was a prisoner on a ship that encountered a 2 week long storm. God revealed to him in a dream that the ship would go down, but none of them would die. Every one would survive this disaster.
And maybe that’s what you need to know right now. This storm isn’t going away overnight. The very thing that is keeping you afloat right now is going to fall apart too. But, you will survive. You will be saved. God has already declared you’re going to make it through this.
What God showed Paul was indeed the truth, the entire ship fell apart, nothing but pieces were left, but every last sailor and prisoner on the boat made it safely to the shore of an island called Malta.
That’s great. You’re going to survive. The ship might go down, but you will not. However, that’s not the lesson only lesson God asked me to share with you today. There’s more.
Acts 28: 1-3 “Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us. 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.”
Well doesn’t that just suck. Now Paul isn’t only a prisoner, he’s a shipwrecked prisoner, and he is bit by a snake! Sometimes isn’t that exactly how life feels? You make it through one thing and here comes the next thing. If it weren’t for bad luck, you wouldn’t have any luck at all.
Have you ever caught yourself making a list of everything that has gone wrong in the last 2 weeks of your life? First, the dishwasher stopped working, then you broke the screen on your cellphone, then the cat got sick, now you lost your debit card, and your teenager is being a jackwagon. Why can’t anything go right for you?
While you’re having your pity party, recounting all the ways life has been unfair, I want to remind you Paul has been falsely accused, arrested, and facing judgment, he has gone through a 2 week storm at sea where they didn’t eat the entire time and then the ship sank, now he’s on some strange island, still as a prisoner, and he is bit by a poisonous snake.
Okay, his 2 weeks might suck more than yours.
Sometimes don’t you want to just ask WHY? Why did this happen? Why me? Why can’t anything go right?
Those are fair questions, and typically there’s a really simple answer.
Why did the snake bite Paul? Was it an attack of the devil? Was it an evil plot of hell to take him out?
Well, actually scripture tells us exactly why the snake bit Paul. It says the snake was driven out of the wood because of the heat of the fire. And, that is completely natural. It’s natural for a snake to come out of the fire. And it’s also natural for a snake to bite anything they view as a threat.
Paul was bit by the snake because that’s what snakes naturally do.
And maybe you can calm down for a second and see the whole world isn’t stacked up against you, but maybe some natural things have happened here. When cell phones get dropped, they naturally break. Cars eventually have problems, that’s natural. Teenagers experience hormones that turn them into beasts you would rather eat than speak to, that’s natural. Companies go through hard times and jobs come to an end, that’s natural. People get hurt and they don’t know how to heal their hurt, so they start hurting other people, that’s natural. Our pets get sick, human lives come to an end, things change, that’s natural.
However, never forget as natural things happen, you are empowered by a supernatural God, and you don’t have to respond the way normal people would. Honey, you are not normal! Cancel your pity party!
Paul is bit by this poisonous snake naturally coming out of the fire, being all bitey and such because that’s what snakes naturally do. That sucks, but what are you going to do? Are you going to throw a fit and declare it’s unfair? Are you going to question why you when there were a whole lot of other worse people around the fire who could have gotten bit instead of you? Or will you do what Paul did in verse 5, “But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed.”
He shook off that snake. He shook off what he could have viewed as an unfair attack. He shook off the threat. He shook off the next thing piling on his list of everything that had gone wrong for him. He shook that off.
Sis, instead of letting this pile up on you as another thing going wrong in your life, you’ve got to shake this off. Why? Because you’re here on a mission. You’ve got a life only you can live, and a purpose to fulfill. Don’t let the natural unfoldings of life derail you and keep you stuck in overwhelm.
Here’s what happened next. Verses 7-10 “Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. As it happened, Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip.”
Did you catch it? What did Paul use to heal these people? HIS HAND! Yes, the very thing that had just unfairly been hurt. Paul went from having his hand bit by a snake, to using that hand to heal people. The very thing that was hurt was now used for healing. If Paul would have been sulking in a tent, recounting the story of how unfair his journey had been, worried about the next unfair thing coming his way, he would have missed his opportunity to use what had been hurt for God’s healing power.
Is God telling you he now wants to use where you have been hurt? Is he prompting you to stop reliving how bad it was and offer it as a vessel for his power to flow through?
What could happen in your life if you canceled your pity party and got on your praise prance? (Play a little old school Mary Mary’s Shackles and prance out your praise!) What could happen in your life if instead of making a list of how unfair this is, you started making a list of all the ways God might want to use it for good next? What could happen in your life if instead of assuming everything goes wrong for you, you accept that some things are just natural, but you’re empowered by a supernatural God who has good plans for your life which reach beyond this problem. Ahhhh, that could change your entire experience! That could turn your hurt into healing. That could turn your problem into a purpose. That could turn your list of burdens into a list of blessings.
Now notice what happens after Paul uses his snake bitten hand to heal people on the island. He was honored and his needs were met for what was next on his journey.
If you will stop blaming everything and everyone else in bitterness and recognize not everything is an attack on you, sometimes things just naturally happen, then God can use that natural happening to create an opportunity for the supernatural next. The next step in your journey will be covered if you will be faithful to use your hurt for good here.
Paul’s snake bitten hand was used for healing of everyone on the island where he was shipwrecked. What could God do with your wound right here in this mess you never planned for?