In Chapter 28 of the Book of Acts, we find a miraculous story concerning a fatal snake bite. We pick up the story when Paul and the rest of the passengers on board a ship headed for Rome find themselves shipwrecked on the island of Malta.
Now Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and he was laying them on the fire when a viper crawled out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the little animal hanging from his hand, they said to one another, doubtless this man is a murderer, for though he has been saved from the sea, Justice, the goddess of avenging, has not permitted that he should live. Then Paul simply shook off the small creature into the fire and suffered no evil effects. However, they were waiting, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead; but when they had watched him a long time and saw nothing fatal or harmful come to him, they changed their minds and kept saying over and over that he was a god. Acts 28:3-6 AMPC
After this incident, Paul was able to spend three days with Publius, the leader of the island. During this time, Paul healed Publius’s father as well as many other inhabitants of the island.
Similarly to Paul, we may find ourselves “bitten” just prior to God using us to bless others.
So the question to ask ourselves is “How do I react when I am bitten?”
To help us answer this question, let’s consider what this may look like in our lives today.
A bite may come in the form of a health issue, perhaps as simple as a headache or more intense as in caring for a sick loved one. It could be a financial setback in the form of a job layoff or unexpected major expenses. Perhaps it is discord within our homes, extended family, co-workers, or friends. It may even be an unidentifiable gloom or apathy that we cannot shake.
Satan’s tactics may vary, but his goal is hurt and distraction.
When we sit down to watch a movie with our family or friends, the pause button can come in very handy. If our stomachs are encouraging us to make popcorn, hitting pause provides us with the freedom to do this and not miss any of the excitement provided by our movie.
Life, however, is a bit different; when we hit pause to focus inwardly on our snake bite, we may very well be missing God-appointed opportunities in the Kingdom.
As we look at this account, we see Paul walking in complete trust of God. When he was bitten, he most likely prayed and thanked God for His protection. Then it would seem he moved on and forgot about the incident. He had more important things to attend to as He saw the “field of Malta” was ripe around him.
Paul, it would seem, trusted and prayed, then continued.
I would venture that we sometimes add a step; we trust and pray, pause until we receive, then continue.
Here are three truths to stand on when we find ourselves wanting to hit pause.
1. God is faithful.
When we are fully trusting in God, we do not need to hit pause and wait for resolution or the answer to our prayers. Instead, we can confidently walk by faith and not by sight.
“Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
2. God’s ways are perfect.
As we are able to fully trust that God will work the situation out for our best and for His glory, there is no need for us to hit pause.
“We are assured and know that all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.” Romans 8:28
3. God’s Word is reliable.
If we position ourselves firmly on the truth of the Word, we will have the confidence to move forward without hitting pause. If the Holy Spirit has highlighted a specific verse for our situation, we will be even bolder in our resolve to continue to press on.
“Sanctify them, purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.” John 17:17
As I was preparing a lesson on this topic for a class I was teaching the next day, I started feeling like I had a fever. Internally, I began debating whether I should stop working. I was concerned that I would not be well enough to even go to the class, let alone to teach. My thoughts led me to conclude the best course of action was to lie down and rest, rather than continue to work on the lesson. Then, God put on my heart, “Practice what you are writing about. Don’t hit pause right now.” So instead, I prayed and thanked Jesus for my healing, Father for His covering, and I continued to write!
Not only was I able to teach the next day, but the symptoms I had been experiencing were gone within a few hours of my prayer.
I want to encourage you the next time you find yourself bitten, don’t hit pause. It may be that God has an exciting adventure awaiting you just around the corner.
One final thought: always follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If God is telling you to hit pause, then you most definitely should listen!!
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