This morning, I had an encounter with God as I was reading in Acts chapter 9. At first, the familiar story seemed dull. You know how it is when you’ve read or heard the same story over and over. But then, a new revelation merged from the content. It’s funny how old stories of the Bible become fresh and timely for the present, isn’t it?
When I got to verse 21, I started to see the word “rejection” in my minds-eye. Paul had just been transformed from Saul, who murders Believers” to Paul, the disciple of Christ. Because of his past reputation, many rejected Paul, the disciple. This was only the beginning of Paul’s trouble. Throughout his ministry, Paul experienced rejection, suffering and trials that seemed unfair.
Think about it. Here he was working for the Lord, and yet, he was shipwrecked and thrown into prison falsely accused more than once. Doesn’t that seem odd for a man called of God? Wasn’t God’s favor strong enough to protect him from such adversity?
I thought about my sickness this summer. Like Paul, I was shipwrecked unable to do life and ministry. I began to feel rejected by God. I wondered if I had lost His favor. It didn’t make sense. I was serving God—trying to do what’s right–ministering Jesus in any way I could. Then, without warning strong winds blew in. Clouds hung overhead and it began to storm. Before I knew it, I was shipwrecked.
You’ve been there, too.
Some of you have been rejected by family, friends, and co-workers. Others have been falsely accused or imprisoned by your finances or 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 a faith like this call for smooth sailing instead of finding yourself shipwrecked?
And yet, Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts and plans are higher than ours.
If we follow Paul’s journey, we find God working through the rejection, the trials, the prison time, and the shipwrecks. God used these hardships to position Paul on top. Not for fame but to increase the Kingdom of God. How else could Paul have witnessed to the Pharisees if he hadn’t been rejected and thrown in prison? How else could the people see God’s power at work in Paul than when he survived the storms—when the snake bite didn’t kill him—when the jail walls shook? Because of these things, people believed.
That can only mean one thing. God doesn’t waste our pain, rejection or our shipwrecks. He’s using them to bring about His plan—to put you at the top so that others can see God’s transforming power.
That being said, I believe our challenge is this—to rise from the wreckage so that our lives will give testimony that draws others to the Master. I choose to rise.