Lessons from a Shipwreck

March 14, 2020

 



In light of the corona virus scare, I share some insights I got from reading these verses:

Acts 28
New International Version (NIV)

28 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.

2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.

3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.

4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.”

5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.

6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days.

8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.

9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.

10 They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.


Let me give you a bit of background.

The Jews had mixed emotions regarding the Gospel of Jesus that Paul shared. Paul’s message caused chaos in Jerusalem.

Paul was arrested by the Roman authorities because of the Jewish outburst. Some Jews pushed for Paul to be executed while he was under arrest.

Because of this, Paul appealed to be tried in Rome before Caesar. The Roman officials in Jerusalem granted Paul’s request.

When Paul was about to sail for Rome, Paul noticed that the weather was unfriendly.

He requested to the captain and the crew to postpone their voyage but was rejected.

Paul was right and the journey at sea was a nightmare. Merciless waves, punishing weather, lack of food became a problem for everyone in the ship.

Paul tried to get everyone calm and safe but still they got shipwrecked. The people swam to the island of Malta for safety.

Here are the lessons I learned from these verses.

1. Both positive and negative happen even to the saints

Paul was one of the most respected apostles in his time. Yes, he had the worst background but he turned his life around with the help of the Holy Spirit.

No one worked harder than Paul in spreading the Gospel during his time, arguably. If good times are based on the work that we do for the ministry, then Paul should have been smooth sailing all his life.

However, God’s plans may involve hard times like Paul’s voyage to Rome.

However, Paul didn’t lose his identity when bad things happened. He remained calm and trusting to God. He served whenever possible and even healed the sick.

What if Paul focused on the bad things that happened at sea? I believe he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to heal the sick in Malta and share the love and power of God.

We should be like Paul. He served the people as one of the victims of the shipwreck and got bitten by a viper for doing so. He could have complained or panicked but he remained calm. He just shook that viper off his arm. Let’s follow Paul’s example and just shake things off.

Bad things can happen to good people and If we focus on the bad, we might lose the chance to glorify God.

We should remember that God is in control during hard times. Stay calm. Help when we can and keep believing in God.

God will always give us everything that we need to fulfill our purpose. This is the first time Paul went to Malta but the people there were unusually kind to him even before Paul healed all the sick there.

The the fear of the corona virus is increasing, it’s good to remember that God’s provision will always be enough.

2. Some of the people observing you want you to fail.

This may not be virus related, but I still want to include this.

When Paul was bitten by the viper, some people in the island were quick to judge.

They said Paul must have been so bad that while he escaped death at sea, justice caught up with him through the viper. They expected Paul to die.

Like Paul, we have people who judge us. They condemn us for our mistakes. Most of them do not even know our whole story but there they stand, pointing their fingers.

We cannot expect life to be free from negative people. But we can be like Paul and ignore the haters.

Keep working and follow God. Help when you can. If they watch long enough they would think you are god-like.

3. Help when you can.

Paul was a victim of a shipwreck but he didn’t seem like it. After the wreck he gathered firewood so they could keep warm.

When Paul found out that the chief’s father was sick Paul healed him.

When the people learned that Paul was a healer they brought the sick to Paul. Paul healed them all.

Because of Paul’s service, the people of Malta knew God’s love and power.

Right now, we are facing hard times. Let’s help one another. Be responsible for our own health so we could contain the virus.

4. There are side quests in our mission.

Paul’s mission was to share the Gospel in Rome. This made sense because Rome was the centre of the world back then. If you want to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Rome is the place to be.

Then why did Paul get side tracked to the small island of Malta?

It’s within God’s plan.

God wanted the Gospel shared in Malta so he allowed Paul to be shipwrecked there.

Rome was Paul’s mission. Malta was his side quest.

Like Paul, we have received our main mission from God. The mission was too important that it overwhelmed us. We looked at our circumstances and realise that we are way off from God’s plan. We begin to lose hope.

Right now, the virus issue has affected a lot of people. Lives, health and jobs are at stake.

Friends, stay faithful. we might be in our side quests right now. Let’s serve when we can. Let’s keep the faith. Let’s glorify God where we stand.

When we complete this side quest God will lead us back to our main mission.

Let’s Sum it Up

Corona is now a pandemic but God is faithful. If we think that He has forsaken us or that He lied about the promise He gave us, we are mistaken. God is faithful.

Bad things can happen to good people and if we play it right God will be glorified with our circumstances.

Some people will not be friendly and that’s okay. Let’s focus on God.

God’s plans are complex. He has a purpose for everything. Let’s continue to serve Him even when it makes no sense.

I end with this verse:

Romans 8:28
New International Version (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

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