Today — and for the next two weeks — we are going to take a look at Acts 28, as I respond to my Mom’s request to tell her my thoughts on this chapter. It turned out to be quite lengthy, and so I decided to divide the one email into three. For this entry, we look at verses 1-10, and an anecdote as to how Paul’s life has lead to me being comforted during a pretty bad bout with allergies.
We are shown here a realization of the signs Jesus promised for those who carry out The Great Commission. Paul was unharmed by the serpent 😎🔥🐍, and he prayed over and laid hands on the sick Publius:
And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
— Mark 16:15-18
This is part of a portrait of a modern missionary. My missionary friends like to say, “If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill!” not as a challenge, but more of an assurance of God’s faithfulness 🙌✨.
See, people question often what is God’s will for their lives. There are times we think that if we do not go out and be missionaries, planting churches, or speaking to a crowd of thousands, we’re doing something “less” in the eyes of God. God’s will, however, can be summarized in three things:
- (1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and all your soul ✨🙌💞 (which encapsulates obedience to His laws);
- (2) Love your neighbor as you love yourself (which is easier said than done! Haha!);
- (3) Share the Good News 🕯📖💕.
Paul, who ended up with nothing — as far as material things are concerned — rejoiced in his sufferings. God moves in ways we can never even begin to imagine comprehending. In our finite minds, we think that if it’s truly “God’s will and God’s bill”, Paul should probably be going around his missions like a king!
But being shipwrecked, being bitten by a snake, and willingly touching a sick man is where God can be seen at work. We cannot see God’s mercy when we’re sitting by the poolside sipping cold iced tea. We cannot experience God’s healing when we never encounter sickness.
I just want to share something about that last point, Mom: see, I got severe food allergies which started on Sunday. I woke up after a nap with hives building on my arms and legs 😵 . I thought that taking over-the-counter meds would do the trick, since I didn’t have my Intellicare card yet. However, Monday came along, and my hives built up overnight, and I was already experiencing palpilations 😫💦.
I got my Intellicare card number, but found out that it was still “inactive”. While I was in the ER, waiting for my Supervisor parlay with HR, I decided to catch up with my Bible reading. The following verses struck me:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
I just felt that I had to pause and remember not to focus on my current circumstances, but to fix my eyes on Who it is who loves me, comforts me, and knows me from the inside-out 😊💕. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” — Paul started off a paragraph with praise and worship for God, and that is the position we must always take, no matter our circumstances.
I meditated on the verses and I prayed for everyone in the ER that day — for peace, for guidance and wisdom for the medical personnel, for comfort and healing for the afflicted 🙌💕.
I was already preparing for the eventuality that I will be shelling out cash for my treatment, but soon enough, I was surprised by one of the nurses who told me that my Intellicare account was activated!
Shortly after, my treatment arrived: an intramuscular shot, and an IV shot. It was the first time I had to have something administered intravenously 😱 haha! It was freaky! Tears came to my eyes, not because of the pain of the needle being inserted in your vein, but because God is just so good 😭💕.
Despite the pain and the suffering, this joyful song was being sung in my heart and soul: You Are Good by Israel Houghton and New Breed 🙆✨
If Paul hadn’t gone through what he went through, then he wouldn’t have been lead to write those words that transcended centuries and touched me in a very personal way, and reminded me of God’s comfort through a very particular ordeal.
Next week: Acts 28:11-16 ! See you then!