Thorns in the Flesh
When God communicates a purpose and message with dramatic supernatural
manifestations (angelic visitations, audible voices, and signs in the
heavens), then we know the Lord is urgent about making the message apply
to our lives. He will challenge the areas in our lives that are inconsistent with
the message He has given us to proclaim.
God sometimes sends a thorn in the flesh to those to whom He gives
abundant revelation in order to protect their hearts from destructive pride.
The apostle Paul said that he had been given a “thorn in the flesh” in order
that he would not exalt himself. This was due to the fact that his ministry
was blessed by an “abundance of the [prophetic] revelations” (2 Cor. 12:7).
God has determined to work humility in each of us. For some, the beautyof God’s work in their heart is not put on a public stage where it is noticed
by others.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit works in one’s heart for almost a lifetime before
that person is given the full platform to release the message. Some are given
a platform early in their ministry as they preach beyond the maturing work
of the Holy Spirit in their own lives. That has been our situation, to some
degree. We were called to proclaim a message of humility that we ourselves
did not yet possess in a mature way. If we really love God, He gives us the
chance to respond voluntarily to the Spirit in this. Sometimes He allows the
difficult circumstances of people attacking our character and ministry to help
us grow in humility. The prophetic controversy we walked through in the
early 1990s was meant to wake us up to see the unperceived pride in us. Of
course, humility is a lifelong journey. God is very patient and gracious to us
as He little by little reveals the unperceived pride that lies beneath the surface
of our hearts. He is kind to us as He patiently waits for us to change: “Do
you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not
knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).