posted on Nov, 10 2009 @ 08:17 PM
Few attitudes are more disheartening and destructive to faith than the notion that God doesn't hear our prayers, doesn't answer or doesn't care.
It is easy to come to such a conclusion when God doesn't respond when or how we want.
The apostle Paul was a man who could have concluded that God doesn't listen to people. After all, he urgently pleaded with God to intervene for him
in a chronic trial. But God refused to grant Paul's request.
Does this mean Paul lacked faith? Of course not. However, there is a deeper lesson for us in Paul's life of living faith.
Notice Paul's account of this trial. "There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the
Lord to take it away from me". (2 Corinthians 12:7-8)
What was this trial, this messenger of Satan, that tormented Paul? Comments in Paul's writings hint that it might have been a problem with his
To Church members in Galatia, Paul wrote: "As you know, it because an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a
trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn, instead, you welcomed me...I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have
torn out your eyes and given them to me". (Galatians 4:13-15) Writing about his illness, Paul said that some of the members there would have given
him their own eyes if they could have helped him.
Several years later Paul wrote the Corinthians that he had pleaded with God on three occasions to have his "thorn in the flesh" removed. We
shouldn't read into this that Paul simply mentioned the problem in prayer to God. The implication is that he fervently ask God to deliver from the
trial, no doubt with fasting and heartfelt prayer ( 2 Corinthians 11:27). He wanted this hindrance removed so he could continue to spread the gospel
effectively and care for the congregations God had raised up through him.
Paul could have concluded that God had not heard his pleas. But this is not the case. God simply gave Paul a different answer. "My grace is
sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul's experience stands as an important spiritual lesson for us. Sometimes God's answer for us is "no" or "not yet" God never intended our
physical bodies to last forever. He has allotted an existence of about 70 years (Psalm 90:10). He is far more concerned that we develop righteous
character and a trusting relationship with Him that can last for eternity. He wants to resurrect us to eternal life in a glorious, immortal spirit
body not subject to weakness, illness, and death. (1 Corinthians 15:40-44, 50-54).
In the meantime Paul understood that God in His love will never allow us to fall into trials greater than we can endure. "God is faithful," Paul
wrote and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up
against it." (1 Corinthians 10:13). Sometimes that "way out" is simply the determination to endure the trial, to "stand up under it."
Paul was not the only one, who learned that living, trusting, abiding faith is more important than physical health and longevity. Even Jesus knowing
that He faced a cruel death only hours away, prayed, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me..." (Matthew 26:39) Jesus loved
life and most likely wanted to live as much as any of us. But He acknowledged a greater purpose for this physical life. "Nevertheless, not my will,
but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
Jesus Christ was the perfect example of faith, knew God's will was more important then His will.
God knows what is best for us in the long run, even if it may conflict with our wants and desires. As Peter tells us, "cast all your care upon Him,
For He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
Because God works within us from a broader perspective to build faith and character, He doesn't always answer our prayers the way we desire. But He
will always do what is best for us.
Peace as always,