Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out b the heat fastened itself on his hand. 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.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 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. (Acts 28:1-6)
The Holy Spirit, often characterized by a fire, was at work in the hearts of these uncivilized Maltese, preparing them to receive Jesus. Paul humbled himself after the distress of the sea storm to help with the fire, and God allowed additional trauma, a snake bite.
Paul realizes that God lets us suffer for a reason, often to strengthen us or let others experience our faith. When we shake off life’s hardships and trust God to bring us through them without harm, people will notice we are different, and our friends, family, and perhaps strangers will want what we have and open their hearts to Jesus.
Father, I praise you for fortifying my faith by leading me through hardships and giving me your power. Help me express my faith by declaring to people, “This situation is tough, but I know God will guide me through it and give me strength. With you by my side, I can be happy in any situation, even when the vipers bite. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.