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After being shipwrecked, Paul and his shipmates washed upon the shore. They survived within an inch of their lives, after several long weeks of struggle. Dealing with fatigue, hunger and distress, the islanders came to their rescue. To combat the cold, Paul warmed himself by a fire.

Just when it seemed that his situation was improving, a poisonous viper struck him on the hand. The islanders were amazed as Paul shook it off into the fire and remained unharmed. They were aware of the snake’s deadly venom and probably saw a victim or two. After this experience, they knew that Paul was no ordinary man (Acts 28). Today, our faith can help us overcome extraordinary obstacles.

The Apostle Paul was no “snake handler,” but he did know how to deal with the bite of a serpent. In fact, this is what separated him from so many others. His ability to “shake off” hardships, persecutions, and numerous obstacles was incredible. He was very effective in his calling because he persistently pressed on towards the goal.

Even as Christians, we sometimes struggle as hardships come our way. God makes it clear that we will face tribulations in this world (John 16:33). It seems that everything can be smooth sailing and then an “attack” comes out of nowhere. We are then faced with a decision on how to respond. It is how we deal with the bite that makes all the difference.

If we are dealing with “snakes” in our lives, let’s remember the scripture in Romans 8:31: “If God be for us, who can be against us.” The same God that helped Paul will also get involved in our situations. The Lord will fight our battles (2 Chron. 20:15). He will be our help and strength in time of need (Psalms 46:1). Most importantly, he will hear the cry of his people (Psalms 34:7).

With his help we can shake off depression and disappointments. We can overcome persecutions and the criticisms of others. By the grace of God, we can move past our weaknesses and failures.

As the promise goes, no weapon formed against us shall prosper. The Lord uses our obstacles to make us stronger. Let us pray that God will enable us to victoriously shake off the hardships of life.

Ralph and Elizabeth Pyszkowski, your brother and sister In Christ. All comments are welcomed at rpyszkow@gmail.com.