Understanding Satan’s role (2)
Satan’s attack can drive you closer to God. That was true in Paul’s life. Think of Paul’s CV: a personal audience with the resurrected Christ, a participant in heavenly visions, an apostle chosen by God, an author of the Bible. He healed the sick, travelled the world, and penned some of history’s greatest documents. Few could rival his achievements. And maybe he knew it.
But God loved Paul too much to allow pride to destroy him. ‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.’ We aren’t told the nature of the thorn, but we’re told its purpose – to keep Paul humble. We are also told its origin – a messenger of Satan. The messenger could have been a pain, a problem, or a person who was a pain. We don’t know. But we do know that the messenger was under God’s control.
Note what Paul says next: ‘Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (vv. 8-10 NIV 2011 Edition).
Here’s a truth that can transform every test into a potential triumph: Satan and his forces are simply a tool in the hand of God to strengthen you.
‘A messenger of Satan, to torment me.’ 2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV (1984 Edition)