“Man did eat angels’ food” (Psalms 78:25)
Today’s devotional is to the readers who have asked God many times to rid Satan out of their life, but as of yet he hasn’t removed him. The Apostle Paul also experienced such heartbreaking misery.
Paul bemoaned that his devilish thorn was endlessly “beating him black and blue with tightly closed fists” (Greek text for “buffet” in 2 Corinthians 12:9), thus Paul wrongly believed such was hindering his full ministerial capability. Paul never publicly exposed his devilish “thorn.”
When I study the Scriptures, I love to fantasize its messages. When I read about Paul’s devilish thorn, I fantasize Paul crying out to Christ every moment of every day and night (possibly in anger), “Lord, don’t you realize how much more morally and ministerially powerful and effective I would be if you removed this devilish thorn out of my life”? Then I fantasize Jesus responding, “Paul, the reason you are so powerful and effective in your ministry is because I refuse to remove your devilish thorn! If I remove Satan’s thorn out of your life, you would never come into my presence — thus lose your Christ-glorifying morality and ministerial effectiveness. I use your thorn to prick you into my presence for biblical wisdom plus Christ-like authority and power. The choice is yours: spiritual power and Christ-like ministerial effectiveness because of your thorn, or moral and spiritual impotence without the thorn.”
When Paul understood his devilish thorn was the secret of the Christ-like power in his behavior and effective ministry, he praised God more for his devilish thorn than he would have praised God for removing it (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul was constantly kept in darkened prison dungeons alone, away from all other prisoners, for preaching the gospel of Jesus. I fantasize Paul praying, “Lord, don’t you realize that so long as I am in this dungeon, there are multi-thousands of people I could win to Christ by preaching the gospel to them”? I fantasize Christ responding, “Paul, the Scriptures you write while in prison will save multi-millions to Christ thousands of years after your death that would’ve never been saved if I rescue you out of this darkened dungeon now.”
More people have been won to Christ (many now reading this devotional), delivered from the power of sinful addictions, comforted during heartbreaking times, because of the Scriptures Paul wrote while in prison dungeons. Prison guards and prisoners in Paul’s day would have probably never been won to Christ had God answered Paul’s prayer for rescue from prison dungeons so he could preach Jesus’ gospel publicly.
Our devilish thorns aren’t for our comfort, but rather for the comfort of others to whom we minister (2 Corinthians 1:3-6). Don’t ever pray for God to use you effectively to change others for their betterment if you don’t want devilish thorns. God designs devilish thorns to prick us to the feet of Jesus, for us to receive his same heavenly ministerial wisdom, authority, power and effectiveness.
The Rev. G. David Henderson is the pastor of Temple of the Lord at 611 S. Green St. in Dalton. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on the first Saturday of the month.