I remember in primary, high school and university, I was always expected to perform better than my previous semester, especially in Maths and Languages. My report form was the very first thing I would present right after I got home and my parents would do an analysis and give their comments.
Both good and bad expectations are very common in our society. For instance, if you’ve completed university education, you’re expected to have a job and be financially stable. If you are 30 years of age, you are expected to either have married or expected to marry very soon. If you are married, the next expectation is children. When you have the firstborn, the second one is expected. The list is endless. What has been expected of you lately? Imagine you are not alone. Paul also experienced the same.
TEXT: Acts 28:1-10 “Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.“
Paul and the other prisoners had just encountered a storm in the sea and they were cold and wet, so as soon as they were on shore, some fire had to be lit to make them warm. It is at this time that a viper(which is very dangerous, very fast in striking) jumped from the wood Paul had gathered and wrapped itself on Paul.
Why did it not fall on anyone else? Does God want us to learn something from here? Oh yes! Paul was a believer. His reaction to this viper is amazing. HE SHOOK OFF THE VIPER INTO THE FIRE. I don’t know how many people could manage to shake off the viper right back into the fire or would first faint or scream to death like me! 🤣🤣
When the people saw the viper they expected that it would harm Paul and this would be a natural way of punishment. BUT PAUL SHOOK IT OFF. The bible continues to state that He suffered no ill effects. The viper was back into the fire. The people’s expectations did not end there. They expected to see some swelling on Paul’s hand and worse still, death. None of this happened. They really waited for a long time and alas! NOTHING HAPPENED.
I don’t know what kind of viper has fastened itself on your hand. Is it sickness? Is it barrenness? Is it joblessness? Financial strain? Immorality? Anger? Pride? Name it! What has the community said about your family? What does your family say about your poor performance in school? What does your doctor say about your terminal illness? What are you doing about this viper? Do you intend to watch it bite & kill you or do you intend to shake it off into the fire? Do you intend to conform to people’s expectations? Does this inform your thinking or do you intend to follow Paul’s footsteps? Shake off all these things!
They see your terminal illness as so-called by the doctor and say you are not gonna recover. In fact, some even start preparing for your burial. They see your barrenness and keep telling you that you’ll never see a generation. They see your performance in school and the teacher keeps rubbing it in your face that you are a good-for-nothing fellow. They have witnessed your first miscarriage and they say you will never get another child, your case is done. They have seen you start a small business and it fails and they say business is not your cup of tea. You said you want to be a doctor and your high school results say otherwise, so they said you’ll never be a doctor. Do you still pursue your dream or do you believe what they say?
I may not mention all the kind of vipers and expectations, but all I do know is that Paul has given you and me a reference point of what to do when something is expected of us, especially negative expectations. What people say about us should not dictate how our lives should look like. ONLY GOD has the final say about our lives.
There is this song that goes🎶“Who has the final say, Jehovah has the final say. Jehovah turns my life around… He makes a way where there seems to be no way!” Indeed God is my author. What He says about me no one 🙅🏽 can say otherwise about it unless I choose not to believe God’s word about me. For example in Deuteronomy 28, there are so many things that God says about us. Please read Deut 28. In summary, it says that you will be blessed if you are obedient.
Why then don’t you believe that you will be blessed and yet His stamp is already in place?🤷🏾♀️ He already says the fruit of your womb is blessed. Why do you choose to believe other people who have seen your business fall and say that you not gonna be successful? Prov 24:16 says righteous men fall but wake up seven times. Wake up! Continue. Prosperity is your portion.
Jeremiah 30:17 declares that Health is our portion and that our health is restored. Why then do you believe your doctor when he says you have two weeks to live? Go back to the word of God. That is how we ought to manage people’s expectations of us. We need to go back to the word of the Lord and see what He expects of us and what he says about our situations. You are not alone. We are overcomers. We are more than conquerors. Phil 4:13 says” I can do ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.’
Let’s SHAKE OFF THESE VIPERS INTO THE FIRE. Let’s possess GOD’S WORD AND RUN WITH IT. Paul won the battle. Neither did he die nor swell because he shook it off. Let’s deal with these vipers head on because we can and we have the strength from God.
Father LORD, many things have been said about me. So much is expected of me. I personally don’t know how to deal with this but all I know is that I can trust you. I know I can do all things through you who gives me strength. I believe I’m more than a conqueror. You are the same God who reigned in Paul’s life and you do not change. Help me Lord to manage these expectations for I cannot do it alone. I need you and I surrender to you and to your will.