“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. 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, Justice has not allowed him to live.’ But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.” –Acts 28:3-5 (NIV)
Getting bitten by a viper is no trivial matter. Not only is a viper attack very painful, but it can prove to be fatal as its deadly venom is inserted into our bloodstream and courses through our veins. Hiding in the most inconspicuous and unexpected of places a viper can lunge out of nowhere and strike with startling speed; taking unwary travellers by surprise. For Paul to be bitten by a viper after enduring a shipwreck was definitely not a pleasant experience for him. Even those around him started to ask amongst themselves whether his unfortunate circumstances were a manifestation of divine retribution. Yet to their surprise Paul simply shook off the viper that plunged into his hand and did not suffer from any harmful effects at all!
Situations often come along our path as swift and painful as a viper’s fangs. Without warning we find ourselves in despair and miserable circumstances. To further add to our pain, sometimes we are unjustly told that we are being punished for our faults. Yet when we remain firm in Christ we will have the strength to carry on despite all that may be happening around us. Just as Paul, who by remaining in Christ was not crippled by the viper, we will be given the strength to endure and walk with confidence when we abide with Christ’s Spirit within us. Our sufferings will definitely hurt and like the viper’s bite we will feel the anguish of our trials. However, when we have allowed Him to enter our hearts and carry us through on His strength, we will emerge victorious over our circumstances. In Christ we will not succumb to the venomous attacks of our afflictions, but stand firm in the promise found in Romans 8:28 that, “God works for the good of those who love him,” so that He may draw others into the eternal hope which comes from knowing Him.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.