This week I want to start off with some verses from God’s word, “After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.” Acts 28:1-10
At this time in Paul’s life he is in what most people would define as a trial, he is a prisoner, he has been shipwrecked, and in the passage we just read, he gets bitten by a venomous snake. But, he is not shaken, because God has a call on his life and has told him that he will stand trial before Caesar. Paul had an amazing way of thinking, he understood that even when the world was trying to silence him, that he could not be silenced. Just like when he was on the ship, he befriended Julius the centurion and shared the gospel with him. He thought of his guards and fellow prisoners as a captive audience, that he could share the gospel with. See so many of us are afraid of offending someone or worried about what they will think of us if we share the gospel. The people of the island thought he was a murderer when the viper attacked him, so they thought that justice had come for revenge. But it was not justice, it was our God, the only true God who had not come to bring justice on Paul even though he had murdered Christians before he met Christ on the road to Damascus. But God came to show His power through Paul, so that those who saw would believe Paul when he shared the gospel with them. That was not the only miracle which the Holy Spirit did through Paul that day, many of the sick on the island of Malta were healed, including the father of the man who Paul, the prisoners, and soldiers were staying with.
See in our lives when we have trials they may not always come because of what we have done or the devil trying to silence us, sometimes it is God giving us a chance to grow closer to Him and for us and others to see His power displayed and to believe. Sometimes what we see as an obstacle to sharing our faith is really a huge mission field, we just have to adjust the way we think about how and who we can reach. See most people put in Paul’s position would be questioning God and saying woe is me. But again Paul thinks about the guards not as someone keeping him in, but as a captive audience that he can share the gospel with. Paul had planted many churches before this time and he would have been seeking to speak to them, but Paul being so intune with God saw what so many might have missed, that his greatest mission field is not somewhere else, but it is wherever you are. In the words of Paul and the Holy Spirit, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
This week my dog had a surgery and when she was in pain the only thing she wanted to do was to be near my dad. I think that is such a good symbol for when we find ourselves in trials and pains of this life, we should not run from God, but instead He should be where we run to. Just like the way my dad picked our dog up and comforted her, so will our God pick us up and comfort us, as it says in Psalms 94:18-22 “When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.”
So this week, whether you find yourself in trials or pains of this life or if you are on the mountain top seeking God, know that even in our weakest moment God is right there with us. When we find ourselves feeling away from God, know that He has not moved, He is still right there with us. We are just out of tune to Him. Also remember this week, just like Paul our greatest mission field is wherever we are and the people God has placed around us.