God Will Provide For Us
In Acts 27 Paul, while on a ship headed for Rome, encounters a storm that leaves the ship badly damaged and all of their provisions lost. The last verse of that chapter says that the only thing that safely made it to land were the men on the boat and the planks of wood that they used as flotation devices.
Luke records beginning in Acts 28 that “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 28:2-10 ESV)
The phrase “God works in mysterious ways” came to mind in thinking of not only sparing Paul’s life but securing the provisions needed to survive and continue the journey. In those days, even as a prisoner as Paul was, it was up to the individual to supply oneself with the needed provisions. They had just lost everything at sea. It was because of this snake striking Paul, latching on so that everyone saw it (and Paul proved the Christian thing to do is kill snakes) and then suffered no harm, it set the stage for these people to be willing to “put on board whatever we needed.”
I’ve never had my provisions come through being bitten by a snake and I pray that I never experience that but I can personally say that more than once I’ve sat back just astonished at the blessings I’ve received. I’d be willing to bet you could share times when something in the house broke, didn’t know how you were going to pay that bill, etc. and out of nowhere some act of kindness, generosity, or something else fell into place at the right time that enabled you to get through.
I’m sure when Paul was bitten by that viper it didn’t feel good. I’m no expert in snakes at all and only know of 2 kinds: alive and dead. (have you picked up on my disdain for the creature?) I don’t think its normal for a viper classification of snake to latch on. My point is on top of the stress of going through the storm, the difficulty of the shipwreck, the challenge of being stranded on the Island of Malta was all enough to make one question some things. Being bitten by a viper on top of everything all accumulated to a painful and challenging situation. But God was still at work and worked it out for good.
There are those who teach what some call the “health & wealth” gospel message saying that if you’re faithful to God you’ll not suffer from anything bad or difficult. That’s just not true and has absolutely no grounds in scripture. But our God has promised to take care of us and provide us with what we need. There will be times in our lives that will be difficult and challenging and sometimes painful. But God is still watching over us and working. And more often than not He sends blessings in ways and from sources we never saw coming.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)