“And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.” Acts 28:3 Just as we go through our daily lives….stoking the fires that keep us warm, tending to daily tasks, fueling the strength needed in order to meet the demands of each day….out comes the viper to strike us when we are the most vulnerable. Reaching out, unthinkingly, to perform an act that provides comfort for us and for those in our care…we get bitten.
What has “bitten” you, fellow in Christ? Is it Cancer? Or perhaps an even more debilitating illness? (Yes, there are diagnoses that are more catastrophic than Cancer. But they are not as well known, and so, not in public awareness.)
Have you been struck with the loss of a job? The loss of a loved one? (The loss of a loved one does not have to be through death…many of us have watched our families leave us because of our belief in the Living God.)
The list goes on and on, for the viper takes many forms. It afflicts us. It assails us. It attacks our already decaying physical bodies. It sinks it’s teeth into our thinking, and injects the poison which produces evil thoughts…when our guard is down. (Are you “addicted?” No…you are…”afflicted!”)
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
Only by leaning fully upon the strong arm of our Lord can we manifest the strength to “shake it off” just like Paul did…(as an aside…this is yet another euphemism that comes from the scriptures!) … as we read about this telling example written down for us.
By remaining steadfast (in Paul’s case; continuing to tend to the fire, in the midst of the rain, the cold, being a prisoner, enduring a ship-wreck, being surrounded by “barbarians” ) as he resolutely feeds the fire despite the “discomfort” of being….”snake-bit” he shows us that we too, can serve as a witness to those who surround us.
Act 28:4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 28:5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
He went on to heal many who were ill on that Island of Malta as he spread the good news of The Gospel…fulfilling God’s purpose for him in those less-than-ideal circumstances.
There is never….a perfect scenario for carrying out the plan which is in place for those of us who have elected to move closer to our Lord and Savior. As our bodies become more debilitated, so do our spirits grow stronger in Him. They are in the process of becoming “like Him” as we walk….The Walk.
The world sees our illnesses as “punishment” but we who are in Christ know…that the obvious visible physical decay is but the sign that our Potter is busy with molding a stronger, invisible part of us which will endure forever…when we see our heritage come to fruition in living eternally with The Living God. His purpose is being carried out while our bodies diminish…our example, like that of Paul…providing the unbelieving world with a glimpse of the Very God Who lives within us.
Never give up.
Yield..only to Him.
Keep your focus on Christ Jesus. Let His arms carry you. He is carrying all of us with awesome power that will result in… His glory! And that, dear friend…is what we were originally made for, way back in the Garden of Eden.
(This is written by a woman who has experienced the “Big C” firsthand; and who cared for her husband, in their home…until he was claimed by the ravages of the same disease. Brave…she is not. Every little strength comes from above…straight from The Source…of all life.)