Hi brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, I would just like to share some thoughts on trials and tribulations in the life of believers...
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Before we begin looking at the passage above, we need to turn back to 2 Kings 6:11-23. It is here that we find Elisha in the city of Dothan with his servant. The king of Syria has sent horses, chariots, and a great army to capture Elisha, and that great multitude has surrounded the city during the nighttime. In the morning, Elisha's servant rises and see's the Syrian army and immediately tells Elisha. Let's look what happens next in verses 16 - 18
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of the Lord.
Here then is one of the instances in God's Word where we get a glimpse into the interaction of the things that are seen with the things that are unseen, the physical with the spiritual. What was seen was a large army against two men, what was unseen, but just as real, were the hosts of heaven covering the mountain. In the same way that the eyes of Elisha's servant were opened by the Lord to see the spiritual reality of the situation they were in, so the Holy Spirit, through the pen of the apostle Paul, opens our eyes in the introductory scripture above, to see an unseen spiritual reality that Paul was in and that has great implications for us as well.
As we well know, the apostle Paul received revelations from the risen, ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord through Paul made known the gospel of His grace and the preaching of the mystery. When we look at verse 7 in the introductory scripture above, we immediately see that because of the abundance of these revelations, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. Twice in this same verse, we learn that it was so he would not be exalted above measure. Many have surmised what exactly this "thorn" was, but since the scripture is not explicit on what this is, we shall not hazard guesses either. We do see however, that this thorn was a messenger of Satan, a fallen angel, to buffet Paul. So we see that God allowed Satan to send a messenger to buffet Paul.
Immediately we see a similarity with what happened to Job, so we must confirm this to see if this a truth that spans across the ages and dispensations. When we examine God's record of Job's life, we see Satan approaching the throne of God and accusing Job, saying that the only reason Job feared God was because God had placed a hedge about Job and we see God allowing Satan to buffet Job. Job 1:9-12
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
As we know, Job did not curse the Lord, but through the trial, learned among other things, the power of God and the weakness of the flesh. If this scenario is a truth that spans across the ages, we must find evidence in other ages. As we know Job lived before the Law was given. Let us now look at a similar instance, after the law was given, during Christ's earthly ministry.
We read in Luke 22:31-34
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that they faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
When our Lord prayed for Peter, it was not that Satan would not sift Peter as wheat, but that Peter's faith would not fail. And then the Lord says something interesting, "and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren". Peter, like Job had to learn about the weakness of the flesh, we read later on that 3 times Peter denied the Lord, and we see the bitter tears that followed, but praise the Lord, we also later on in Acts, see Peter not relying on the flesh, but in fact strengthening his brethren in the power of the Holy Spirit.
So we see a pattern across the ages of Satan accusing the children of God, and while God is in control, he sometimes allows God's children to experience these things to grow them and gain a more perfect knowledge of His power and working, and a more sobering realization of the weakness of the flesh. We see come to another age in Revelations and see when Satan will not be allowed to do this anymore. Revelations 12:9-10
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which decieveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Returning to the apostle Paul's situation in the scripture at the beginning of this email, we see that Paul begged the Lord 3 times that this thorn in flesh would be taken away. And the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Then Paul breaks out in praise to the Lord, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong."
All praise be to God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit just gave us a glimpse into the unseen and how he uses our failures, trials,and tribulations to strengthen us in Him. What is the application then that we can make to our lives from these scriptures, as members of the body of Christ, living in this age of God's amazing Grace? Every time we are faced with a trial, should we be suspecting that this is a direct attack from the adversary? We shouldn't fixate on how or why the troubles of this life come our way, but we praise the Lord, that when they come, we know that God is in control, He allows things to happen for our growth in Him, and we take comfort that His Grace is sufficient for us through all these things. As our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified in weakness, He was raised in power, so also our flesh has been crucified with Him, and in His power we have been raised in Him, to walk in newness of life. As in the fiery furnace, the Lord was with Shadrach, Meshach,and Abednego, and not a hair on them was singed by the flames, so too, the Lord is with us in this life in the inward man, and it is there in Him the flames of this life can't touch us. If trials and tribulations come, if friends and loved ones abandon us, if all, physically speaking, seems lost. May we look to the author and finisher of our Faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, and know that He is with us, just as He was with our beloved apostle Paul when all those in Asia abandoned him. May we hear the Holy Spirit's Words through the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16 - 18
At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me: that by me the preaching might be fully known and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the Lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
Grace and Peace,
DW from www.timetoawake.wordpress.com