Arise from the Wreckage
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28 (KJV)
I'd read the book of Acts before and honestly, it fell dull and familiar as I read again. But when I came to chapter nine, something new jumped out at me. I began to see the word "rejection," although it was not in written form. Perhaps I saw what I was feeling that day—rejected.
I was reading at the part of the story where Saul, a murderer, had just been transformed into Paul, a disciple of Christ. Even though Paul was a changed person, many rejected him because of his past reputation and lifestyle.
Not only that, but as Paul became fully devoted to serving Christ—sacrificing his education, his life, and remaining single so he could better serve the Lord—he was falsely accused, thrown into prison more than once and shipwrecked on several occasions. Doesn't that seem odd for a man called of God? Wouldn't God's favor protect him from such adversity?
I thought about an illness that had lingered with me for months. It was so severe I was all but bed-ridden week after week, unable to do life and ministry. I had felt rejected by God. It didn't make sense. I was serving Him in more ways than I could count. Then, without warning, strong winds came and ushered what felt like a storm into my life. Clouds hung overhead and before I knew it, I felt "shipwrecked."
Perhaps, you've been there, too. Maybe you've been rejected by family, friends, and co-workers. Or you've been falsely accused. Maybe you're imprisoned by finances, or being blown around by the consequences of someone else's sin?
It seems so unfair. You've tried to live right. You walk in obedience the best you can. You take God at His Word and trust in His promises. Shouldn't faith like this call for smooth sailing, instead of stormy, shipwrecking seas?
If we follow Paul's journey, we find God working through the rejection, the trials, the prison time, and the shipwrecks. Paul shared the gospel with the Pharisees through his rejection and imprisonment. People saw God's power at work when Paul survived the storms, when the snake bite didn't kill him, and when the jail shook—opening doors and loosing chains.
Paul didn't let his circumstances wreck him with a sense of rejection. He didn't allow self-pity and doubt to overtake him. Instead, we see in Acts 16:22-31 that after being stripped, beaten, severely flogged, thrown in the inner cell of a prison and his feet in stocks, Paul prayed and sang hymns to God. And others around him were listening. The power of God came in such a way that the prison guard begged Paul to tell him, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" He replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus" (vs. 30b-31, NIV).
God kept His promise to work all things together for the good of this man who loved Him and was called according to His purposes. As Paul depended on God and trusted His faithfulness in the midst of his adversity, many witnessed God's power and believed.
And the same is true for us. God doesn't waste our pain, our rejection or our "shipwrecks." He uses them to bring about His plan—to position us so that others can see His transforming power at work in our lives and believe in the living God.
If that's true, and it is, then our challenge is to rise from the wreckage, like Paul, so that our lives will give testimony that draws others to the Jesus. Today I will no longer sit on the sidelines of life full of self-pity. I choose to rise, pray and praise, so that God can position me to shine for His glory, and so that others will believe.
Dear Lord, forgive me for wallowing in self-pity and rejection. I trust that You see the bigger picture. I believe there is a purpose for my pain. Strengthen me to rise from my ashes so that others will see You are my help and my salvation. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
God has called us to live by faith, not by sight. Even though we don't always understand our difficulties, they don't have to overwhelm us. Choosing to trust God helps restore a sense of hope and stability to our lives, and also allows us to rise from our ashes.
What will I choose to do today: will I wallow in self-pity or rise and praise the Lord?
Nahum 1:7, "The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." (KJV)
Psalm 121:1-2, "I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth." (NKJV)
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