Every once in a while, a date occurs that is consistent with the biblical account of something noteworthy. Such is the case today. Because it is presumed that on February 10, in the year 60 A.D., the apostle Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. The biblical account of this event occurs in Acts 27 and 28.
Paul was one of those people who led a larger than life kind of existence. He was struck blind on the road to Damascus, was ultimately healed and claimed to have apostolic status by virtue of the fact that he spent three years in training learning from God Himself. While this may seem difficult for us to believe, Paul was once one of the most vile and hatred persecutors of Christians. Yet after his conversion he became a staunch supporter of Jesus and His people. While Peter and James, the brother of Jesus considered the Jewish population to be their mission field, Paul specifically catered to the Gentiles and that became the lifelong focus of his ministry.
Paul’s conversion did not signal the end of his worldly problems. In fact, by some accounts, they were just beginning. He was beaten numerous times, shipwrecked and as we all know, he had some sort of “thorn” that he even asked God to take away, to no avail. Sometimes, in my experiences with people who are going through issues, they think that because they have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, their problems are over. However, walking the Christian walk doesn’t necessarily mean that you will never know pain or suffering again.
Most of the time, Satan uses our commitment to Christ as a way to try and break us even more vigorously than before. A person who is not advancing the kingdom of God isn’t a threat to the efforts of the dark side – but a person who is on fire for the Lord becomes a prime target, the object of Satan’s desire to crush every effort to promote the supremacy of God. In my own life, I have found this to be true at times. And I am not alone. If you are having hardships in your life, it is entirely possible that you have made it on Satan’s radar screen.
But do not be deterred by this. Press on. God has your back and you are covered. The verse for tonight highlights Paul’s conversation with God about removing his thorn. Paul writes, in 2 Cor. 12:9-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” So Paul didn’t mind being shipwrecked on Malta. He saw the strength of the Lord in everything he did.
My encouragement this evening is that at times, you will feel as though your boat is getting swamped and you face the prospect of being shipwrecked as well. However, God is with you. My prayer is that you will also be made strong in the difficult times of your life. We all face these types of hardships. But the difference for Christ followers is the knowledge that God has a plan and that in the end, God’s plan for you is far better than any possible plan you have for yourself! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…