But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. Acts 28:3 (NASB)
When the apostle Paul came to a saving faith in his Messiah he was told what great things he would suffer for the name of Christ (Acts 9:16). It seemed an understatement. During his ministry he received 195 lashes from the Jews (39x5) not counting the 3 additional beatings he took with the rod. He was stoned once and left for dead, shipwrecked 3 times, bitten by a poisonous snake, in danger of rivers, robbers, his own countrymen, Gentiles, the seas, false brethren, hunger, thirst, cold and exposure. Paul seemed like the first century poster boy for pain.
The thing that has astounded me about this account is when Paul landed here on Malta he continued unwavering in his faith. He could have as easily walked up the beach and found a warm and cozy inn but instead he remained on that inhospitable beach to help build a fire. This act of servanthood to the rest of the group far outweighs anything else that was witnessed that day, including suffering no ill effects after being bitten by a viper. At this moment being shipwrecked on a cold and windy beach Paul found Christ trustworthy.
There are times of adversity we feel like throwing our hands up and pursuing another avenue of our own choosing. Stopping to build a fire instead of cutting and running looks beyond the battle to the prize of our high calling in Jesus Christ. It isn’t a physical fire like Paul’s but one made with the matches of patience and trust. Christ is with us in every way and knows where we stand for He is familiar with every grain of sand on our cold and windy beach.