I contemplated the last hour of conversation with my friend. She never expected to be in this place. A place where it looks like abandonment. Where the lies began to shout..."Has God abandoned me too?" and "is there really a God at all?" Because in this place she doesn't see him. And in this place she feels alone. If God is a loving father and if God says that following His ways will bring blessing, then what is this? This place of storm. Where there is no light...only darkness. Sadness, gloomy despair, deep pain and complete silence.
Paul understood this place. He was imprisoned for preaching the gospel... what he knew he was called to do. For doing right. And here he was....in shackles, sailing to Rome with other common criminals and prisoners. In the middle of confusion, a real storm arose where the sun and stars were unseen for days on end. It was a storm that broke the boat completely apart and left them holding onto broken pieces of the vessel… drifting... ending up in a place called Melita, a place filled with Barbarians. Melita means refuge. Ha! It felt like anything but refuge. He was cold and wet, in unfamiliar surroundings, and stranded with no transportation. To top it off he was bitten by a poisonous snake! I wonder if he questioned whether he really ever heard God at all. Just a few verses earlier he said the words "I believe God". Did he now? Because in storms it's hard to remember and it's hard to see clearly.
Paul didn't know that the chief of the Barbarians had a father who was sick. He didn't know he was going to have the opportunity to pray for him and that, through his prayer, God would move and heal. He didn't know that, because he was bitten by a poisonous snake and didn’t die, that they would see him as a god. That this would usher him into the chief's house to share with them about the living God, the One he represented.
In the end of the trial, Paul found himself in Rome just as God promised. Yes, in Acts 28 he went through a difficult detour and endured many things that were painfully unexpected... but as always, God proved Himself faithful. He is the promise keeper and the way maker, and His purposes are bigger than our own.
Our places of hurt becomes our place of blessing and opportunity. Every single time. Blessing is always the presence of God and not always the "presents" of God. The promises remain true. He never leaves or forsakes us, His love is consistent and His kindness remains. He is good. He is faithful. He directs the wind and the rain; the same wind that took Paul's boat to a people who needed Him. Because, for a believer, there is a much greater purpose than our life being happy and blissful. We need to see HIM. We need to see that He is sovereign and His plans are above ours. He is the healer of wounded hearts and He is the restorer of brokenness.
As Paul literally saw the hand of God, so will my friend. In her darkness, HE will shine, and in her storm HE will bring the calm. Her story isn't over yet. His story will be her story. He will be her confidence and the lifter of her head. He always does and always is. And she will remember, and she will say with Paul, "For I believe God"!
This is my story this is my song,