What If The Formula Doesn't Work?
"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure." 2 Corinthians 12:7 Some say that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was perhaps failing eyesight. They speculate that maybe when he was blinded as he fell from his horse on the way to Damascus, that perhaps damage was done to his eyes. But there's no basis for that in the Scriptures. The Scripture says that he was given a MESSENGER OF SATAN. A messenger of Satan was allowed to buffet Paul and dog his heels wherever he went. Paul asked the Lord to release him from this: vs 8: "Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might DEPART from me." Notice that Paul didn't try to command it to "leave in the Name of Jesus." What did he do? He took it to the Lord. He ASKED. And that's what we are to do when we come into trouble; rather than try to combat a problem or an evil spirit ourselves, we are to take it to the Lord. The Lord may tell us to cast it out, or he may - as in Paul's case - tell us to endure it. But the decision must rest with the Lord, not with us. When Paul asked God to make the afflicter go away, the Lord said no: vs 9: "And he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.'” Paul needed his weakness. We can glean from this passage that the Lord allows us to be harassed by evil if he deems it necessary to work something out in our lives. Paul had been given mighty revelations, among them the revelation of the "mystery of the church," which had not been revealed to anyone in the Old Testament (Ephesians 3, Romans 16). And Paul was taken to "Paradise" and heard things so marvelous that he was commanded not to repeat them (2 Corinthians 12). Is there a man on earth who could have experiences like these and not become proud? Well, there isn't. Pride is the most common and most deadly of all sins, and it's the one thing that Satan will most tempt us with, because it's so deadly that it can destroy us. A messenger of Satan was assigned to Paul as a constant reminder of his humanity, lest he become proud, lest he "be exalted above measure" as he put it. The workings of the Lord in the life of a believer are manifold. You'll never understand what is going on unless you ask the Lord about any problem you're having. People can speculate, but only the Lord can reveal to you what the purpose of your affliction is. Why do people not get healed, not get freed? Sometimes it's because they try to use some formula to combat the problem. You'd think people would "get it" when it doesn't work - again and again and again. They "claim," they proclaim, they decree and declare, but it doesn't work. Their method doesn't work. No, we need to take our trials to the Lord and ask HIM how we are to proceed. You can't go on what he told someone else, every story is unique and in every story we have to seek the Lord's mind on it before we proceed in any way. Jesus healed a blind man by putting mud on his eyes and telling him to "go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (John 9:7). When the man did, he was healed. Do you think it would have "worked" any other way? Do you think he could have "proclaimed" his healing? No, because in this case he needed to do something, something that seemingly made no sense. He needed to "go, wash in the pool of Siloam." Only when he did as commanded, was his sight restored to him. When the Israelites were about to take Jericho, the Lord told them to march around that city each day for six days, then seven times with trumpets on the seventh day. They did, and the walls of Jericho fell. Do you think it would have happened any other way? What if they "spoke" to the wall that it must fall? Would that have worked? Of course not. No, they had to do something that seemed to make no sense, and that wall wasn't going to come down unless they did as the Lord commanded. Can you imagine Joshua telling his army generals that the way we're going to bring this wall down is to march around it six days and then blowing trumpets on the seventh? Picture the looks on their faces when he told them that. However, they did as the Lord directed and the walls came down. The point is - the only way to victory is to spend time before the Lord and seek to know from him what to do, in every single difficulty in our lives. We have to have the mind of the Lord in every situation we encounter, and that means spending TIME before him, seeking his direction. Then, when the Lord shows us what to do, or what NOT to do, we can go forward in confidence. Nothing else will work!