Have you ever been in a battle that just wouldn’t quit? Maybe like my friend Linda you worry about a son or daughter that is away at war – their safety always at the forefront of your mind. Or perhaps it’s a grueling recovery from an illness, financing for your business or a long awaited new job that you have been trusting God for.
We all have battles but when they are prolonged that’s when we begin to ask questions – wondering if God is still paying attention. I too have experienced long battles where I thought God’s provision would never arrive. When this happens, I have learned that relief comes when I get into His Word, spend time on my knees talking openly with him and take time to surround myself with friends and teaching tapes that build me up. Over the past few weeks, I have been studying the life of Paul and this is some of what I’ve learned through a teaching DVD from Rick Renner.
While studying Acts 27 & 28, we see that Paul was on a journey to fulfill the destiny that God had for him to stand before Ceasar and preach. However, on his way to Rome he was…
- Shipwrecked so he swam to shore
- Cold and wet so he gathered a load of sticks to build a fire
- Bit by a poisonous viper snake that attached itself to his hand
- Surrounded by barbarians who thought he would surely die from the snake bite
I think that most of us when faced with this situation, would be tempted to just lie down on the beach and die – forgetting about ever getting to Rome. I do know that the questions would certainly come fast and furiously. Maybe I didn’t hear God clearly. Maybe it wasn’t even God – now there’s a scary thought! Isn’t this exactly the kind of questioning that occurs when we don’t see God’s big picture in the midst of adversity?
I do know that when the going gets tough the tough either get going or they quit. Believe me, I have been tempted to quit many times. However, if I will stop and submit myself to God’s Word, I am encouraged to press on in faith because…
- When we are shipwrecked – faith swims
- When we are cold and it’s raining – faith builds a fire
- When the enemy latches onto us – faith just shakes the enemy off
Just after Paul shook the poisonous viper off, God began to intervene visibly. He sent Publius the richest man on the island to invite him to his home. Paul was immediately taken care of – having all of his needs met. He entered into Publius’ house and when he learned that Publius’ father was sick, he prayed for him and the man was healed. Paul began to hold revival meetings on the island because he understood his calling as an ambassador of Christ. He knew how to walk in this divine calling and so he shared the gospel wherever he went.
Paul stayed on the island of Malta for 3 months and when he left he sailed for Rome in an Alexandrian ship – one of the most luxurious ships of that era. He also left the island blessed with “all he needed” which would include supplies for the remainder of his journey.
I just love this story because it is yet another example of God’s redemptive power at work. The enemy tried to hinder Paul by using circumstances to distract him from his destiny, but God had another marvelous plan that would bring blessing to many – including the people on the island of Malta.
Just imagine if when Paul was thrown into the sea or when he reached the shore, he had given up or cursed God. He would have missed the provision and destiny that God had prepared all along. We should never be surprised if on our journey to do what God has asked, the enemy hinders us. I am learning that we can also be hindered by our own lack of knowledge and understanding in regard to the practical application of our faith and I am working on that:)
I don’t have it all figured out but I am learning that our times of shipwreck are always powerful instances where God touches our hearts and intervenes in a bold way. God does not give us sickness, disease, tragedy or other earthly trials but when they come, He uses them for our good – redemptive power at its finest to bring us blessing even when we don’t see it coming.
In Romans chapter 8 (Amplified Bible) Paul says, “We are assured and know that God being a partner in their [labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.
God is looking for people that He can trust, people He’s given a vision to fulfill – soldiers of the cross who do not have a timid faith. When He has found us to be tried, tested and true, working outwardly to apply our faith, we can wait expectantly for Him to use us as never before.
Chris Tomlin wrote a great song called “Our God” that I sing every day. “Our God is greater, our God is stronger. God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power our God, our God… And if our God is for us then who could ever stop us and if our God is with us, then what could stand against?” Nothing my dear friends absolutely nothing!
When you feel like you are drowning, just remember that your faith swims and your Savior is pulling you to victory!