First, it is not unusual for God to be kind. But his kindness is unusual or unnatural to us in how consistent and abundant it is.
Acts 27-28. What a crazy passage! Paul, his friends with him, Roman soldiers and the ship’s crew were all shipwrecked and by God’s provision and promise made it alive onto a nearby island.
First, read that again. Have you ever been shipwrecked? Have you ever even been on a ship? Imagine you’re on a ship (cruise, ferry, whatever but it’s way worse conditions because you’re back in the first century) and you’re in a storm so bad you haven’t seen the sun or the stars for so many days you have abandoned all hope of being saved. (Acts 27:20) This is like a hurricane. And to make it worse you haven’t eaten for a long time. So I’d be pretty exhausted and hangry.
So then God gives Paul a promise that everyone would live but you’ll lose the ship. Yeah ok Paul. Whatever. Not sure I’d be believing someone who had a vision of an angel when I had been in a storm so long.
But it was true and the ship ran onto an island and beat itself apart on the rocks. But everyone on the ship was saved, just like God promised.
What a kindness. God could’ve just saved Paul. Or him and his friends. But he saved them all.
Then the natives there showed “unusual kindness.” (Acts 28:2) They could’ve been cannibals or come and killed them all as they got out of the water but instead were super hospitable. (another kindness)
Then, Paul got bit by a snake (super yuck!) while putting wood on the fire the natives started for them because it was cold and rainy. But he didn’t die. (kindness #3) The people apparently even stood around watching and waiting for him to die- like swell up or suddenly fall over dead. (It’s there in verse 6, for real.)
They thought he was getting justice by the snake because he was a murderer. How interesting. Paul was a murderer. At least in a sense. A murderer of Christians even. In Acts 26:10 Paul says of himself that “I not only locked up many of the saints in prison…but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.” And he approved of Stephen’s death.
So even though he was a murderer like the people thought, God showed Paul the truth about His Son Jesus and saved him, so that Paul wouldn’t have to suffer or die for his sins for there to be justice. He put that punishment on Jesus instead at the cross. (another kindness)
Back to the story…many people on the island were saved and Paul continued on his trip to Rome, where he lived at least “2 whole years” in his own place, welcoming everyone who wanted to come visit and teaching about Jesus without hinderance. How cool would that have been? To visit the Apostle Paul in Rome? So more of God’s kindness for Paul to have 2 years to preach and teach at the capital city of the super power of the age.
There is so much of the Lord’s kindness to Paul in these chapters. And there is so much of His kindness in my life. To be thankful for. But I’m usually not. I’m focused on my stresses and worries and how things could be better. And on comparing my circumstances to everyone else’s, who clearly have it better.
So Lord, forgive my lack of thankfulness for your kindness in my life. Give me clearer eyes to see your kindnesses in my every day mundane life and in the extraordinary moments. Make me focus on your goodness and not on my circumstances. Which aren’t bad at all..when I think about swimming to shore for my life after being exhausted and hungry and in a storm for at least 2 weeks. And then getting bitten by a snake. (still yuck!)