Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (John 17:17-18)
Apostle Paul was on the journey to Rome. It was the journey that he decided after hearing the voice of Jesus, “Take courage! You have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11b) As soon as he made this decision, a danger came to him: a group of people tried to kill Apostle Paul. However, God, who were in charge of everything on earth and heaven, protected Paul. That very night, Paul was sent to the Governor, Felix under the protection of Roman soldiers. God also gave Paul a great opportunity to proclaim His Gospel, i.e. the truth about Jesus Christ, and His death for sins and resurrection, before King Agrippa and Governor Festus.
After hearing his testimony about Jesus, King Agrippa wanted to release Paul, but Paul was to Rome because Paul had appeal to Caesar. The journey to Rome was started. It was a difficult journey to Rome. The ship carrying Paul sailed from Caesarea, where Governor Festus was located to govern Jewish people for Caesar. The ship also carried other prisoners, Roman soldiers, sailors and passengers. As predicted by Paul, soon the ship met a terrible storm. Then they were in dark under the storm for fourteen days without seeing sky. The sailors took cargoes and even the ship’s gear, and threw them overboard. Eventually, the ship ran aground near a small island. Then it was broken into two pieces. To prevent prisoners from escaping, the Roman soldiers tried to kill all prisoners during the chaos. Again God protected Paul. The Roman soldier’s commander ordered not to kill the prisoners. As a result, all of the prisoners and the rest of the people on the ship escaped safely to shore.
Once they were safe on shore, they learned that they were on the island of Malta. The people of the Island were very kind. It was cold and rainy, so the Island people built a fire on the shore to welcome Paul and the others saved from the shipwreck.
As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” Paul’s reaction was calm, and just took off the snake into the fire.
Paul might have not known that it was a poisonous snake. He must have had a pain from the bite of the snake. Rather than being scared by the snake and its bite, Paul calmly and simply shook off the snake into the fire.
How many of us would react as calmly as Paul did when a snake bites and hangs our hand? Paul must have had a faith, which was bigger than a fear that most of us would have when a snake bites and hangs on our hand. It was not a secret for Paul to have such a great faith. Paul went through many things with God. Paul says in the Book of Corinthians 11:23-27:
Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
Yes, the secret was Paul’s sufferings and hardship experienced in God. His faith and his Godly character was slowly built, not given to him at once by God. Paul shared this truth in the book of Romans.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Paul encouraged us from the precious experience with God through his journey in God. We can rejoice, when we run into problems and life trials, for we know that all of these seemingly bad things on our eyes (yes, nobody wants sufferings and hardships,) on the contrary, help us to develop Godly character in us. Our suffering in God produces endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation, which is our faith.
Therefore, under any circumstance, our faith in the hope never disappoints us. Why? Because of God’s love toward us, which is the strongest of all things that we know and even imagine. To prove His love toward us, he put Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, on cross for our sins because the wage of sins is death. On cross, Jesus was in agony and shouted out of the weight of the sins of all humanity. But God did not hear His own begotten son, and God made Jesus take all our sins. Yes, Jesus received all condemnations that we would have to take. As a result, we are freed from the bondage of our sins – the condemnation of eternal death. Additionally, God lovingly calls us His sons and daughters. This is the greatest blessing and assurance. We can now confidently in faith stand before God as His children. God also continuously pours this love into our hearts by sending Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit testifies and assures us every moment about this truth. Nobody can take away this blessing from us. This is our faith. Through our faith, we are walking with God, and getting closer to Him, which slowly caves our small Apostle Paul out of us, a raw material before God.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)