Friday, January 25, 2013

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         Except for those few people who are “cursed” with the inability to feel physical pain, we all have and will have pain in our lives.  The pain may be physical or spiritual and sometimes the spiritual pain may be greater in intensity and duration than physical pain.

          Paul’s spoke of his, ‘thorn in the flesh’, but we can’t be sure what that thorn was.  It is assumed to have been some sort of physical ailment.  Apparently God never healed him of this affliction.   We do know that Paul suffered quite a bit of physical pain during his life as seen in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27: “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness”.  Despite all that Paul went through he said: "I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong".   “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the 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[1]”. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul again describes his physical weakness: “You remember why I preached the gospel to you the first time; it was because I was ill. But even though my physical condition was a great trial to you, you did not despise or reject me.”[2]

          People might say that the worst pain in the world is the loss of a child.  You might think that Jesus never felt that kind of pain, however, there is rejoicing in Heaven every time a person gives their life to Christ, because it’s one more time God has not lost another of his children.  My wife and I lost a daughter back in the seventies.  I can tell you that the experience was indescribable.  Candace only lived about an hour, but in that time I got to hold her little hand and pray for her.  I am sure that she is waiting for us in Heaven and the reunion will be wonderful.  I can’t imagine the grief God feels over each of those of His creation who reject Him and go to Hell.

          Suffering is not always brought on by Satan. Sometimes suffering is sent from the Lord, either to bring people back to what they should be or, as in the case of the Israelis, because they had turned their back on God and abused the gifts God had given them.  One thing we must never forget: Jesus was a crucified Rabbi.  The Jews were subjected to a great deal of suffering over the ages, but no one suffered anywhere near as much as Jesus did.  He knew what was ahead for Him before He left the Father to do the Father’s will, and pay the price for our transgressions.  Failure to recognize this fact is the disgrace of mankind since the crucifixion and resurrection.

          If someone ever tells you that you are not healed because you don’t have enough faith, “saturate that place with your absence”[3].  I was subjected to this kind of rubbish myself.  I had suffered a subtalar dislocation of my left foot.  That means, due to a fall, I had put my left foot on the side of my leg because of a separation of the ankle bones at the talus bone.  The doctors told me I would never walk very well again. Their group had done seven surgeries similar to mine and none of those patients were doing very well.  I said that, with the Lords help, I would do the proper exercises and walk normally.  After my recovery, I amazed the doctors by the extent of my recuperation.  I did tend to limp some when it rained, and that limping was used by some to say I needed to get right with the Lord and receive full healing.

          God does not give pain; He allows it – there is no pain in Heaven, however, it can be a teaching method used only on earth.  A Bible teacher once told me, we get sick because we have sinned against God, and because there are germs in the air[4].

          What greater pain is there in marriage than physical abuse, mental abuse or adultery?  All three are a fundamental break in the trust of the union of two souls that God has joined together as one flesh.  Wife ( and for that matter husband) beaters are not only committing an act against the one they are sworn to nurture, but also a sin against the Lord, who had sanctified the marriage.  In the Bible, mental control of your partner is spoken against as being witchcraft.  Many people don’t know the difference between fornication and adultery.  Fornication is the act of sexual sin committed before marriage whereas adultery is an act of sexual sin while married.  Each act is the joining of two souls.  Fornication is the sex act performed by people without the required blessing of marriage.  Adultery, on the other hand, is the joining of two people therefore breaking their vows to God and their spouse, which makes it twice as bad.  If a Christian should commit either sin he has dragged the Holy Spirit into it with him, because the Spirit never departs from him.  Do you really think it gives the Spirit of God joy to go with you into a strip bar or bawdy house?    

          We do know that the Lord will never allow us to suffer more than we can bear (the Bible says so).  Sometimes I wish He hadn’t made me so strong.  Although God did not heal Paul’s thorn in the flesh, Paul said that God’s grace was sufficient for him.  God never said we would be free from pain and suffering in this life.  What He did promise, was to be with us in all things.  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”[5]

[1] 2 Corinthians 12:7
[2] Galatians 4, 13-14
[3] James Merritt
[4] Jean Mulholland
[5] Hebrews 13:5


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