Then and Now
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 9 Wednesday
The lesson is about Paul’s physical health and the care he received at Galatia.
Why didn’t the Galatians reject Paul when he had health problems? Weren’t health problems frequently seen as a curse from God?
Why did God not provide miraculous healing to Paul?
In Scripture are miracles usually provided for the benefit of the strong in faith, or are they provided for those who need their faith strengthened?
- Visions of Pharaoh interpreted by Joseph
- Gideon and the fleece
- Elijah calling for the drought
- Elijah calling fire down from heaven
- Elisha raising the axe head
- Elisha’s servant seeing the angel army
- Fiery furnace deliverance
- Daniel and Lion’s den
- Jesus healing people
- Lazarus being raised from the dead
- The Apostles healing people
- Peter walking out of prison
Were these miracles primarily for those through whom the miracles were performed, for those with strong faith, or for those who needed their faith strengthened?
So, why did Paul not get a miracle? Paul didn’t need a miracle and because God’s grace, God’s power to heal hearts and minds, which is the primary purpose on earth now, was made more powerfully manifest in Paul in Paul’s infirmity. And perhaps, given Paul’s history of Phariseeism, this was permitted as therapeutic for Paul, a constant reminder that his strength was always in God and not in Himself—a protection against the encroachment of any pride.
Now don’t get me wrong, suffering is destructive, unless we’ve seen this larger view. God might be disciplining us. He might be allowing us to reap what we’ve sown. Or it might be we’re just living on this dangerous planet, full of terrorists and viruses and germs and drunk drivers. With the larger view we understand this, and we have peace.
Paul was beheaded, but he was at peace, and said, “I don’t mind if I die. I won’t be aware of my time of death. I’ll be with the Lord,” he said. He wasn’t afraid to die. What makes people afraid to die? Isn’t it that when we die, every one of us comes face to face with God? You can’t avoid it. Saints and sinners alike, when they die, the next moment of consciousness will be face to face with God. Will it be terrifying to come face to face with someone who knows us so well?
Every detail of our lives? Not if we’ve learned the truth about God, and how he even treated Judas. If I come face to face with God, and I’m Judas, he would kneel down and wash my feet, if it would do any good. That’s the way he is. Or will he change in the end? How did Jesus look at Judas when Judas went out to commit suicide? Isn’t it the same way he looked at Peter? Exactly the same. We, even if we’re lost, have no reason to be afraid of our heavenly Father. The worst thing He’ll do is to sadly give us up. That is His wrath.
Did you notice all the references to suffering, in the second letter that he wrote? Over and over. In 2nd Timothy 1:8, “take your share of suffering.” And verse 12, he says, “I suffer as I do, but I’m not ashamed.” And then in 2:3, “Take your share of suffering.” And 3:12, “if we endure, we shall also reign with him;” And then in 4:5, “always be steady, endure suffering,” There’s great mention of suffering. Are we suffering? Some people suffer a great deal. Some of us seem to get off rather easily.
Does that mean something’s wrong if we’re not suffering? What are these sufferings that he’s talking about, do you think? What sufferings? Does it mean being shipwrecked, and scourged, and imprisoned? “Take your share of suffering, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” How do you understand all that reference to suffering? Some people even inflict suffering on themselves to show they really are saints, or help themselves to be saints. Is that the idea? Lots of mention of enduring.
Revelation 14:12 talks about “here’s a call for the endurance of the saints.” Of course, if we’re caught up in the great controversy, the meaning of endurance takes on great significance. When in the end, everything seems so confusing, to persist, as Job did, and not be too easily shaken. It seems to me that there are all kinds of suffering. As a boy, I thought the worst thing would be to be taken down into the basement and put on the rack, and stretched, and all that sort of thing.
That has been in my imagination ever since. But I now realize there are more exquisite forms of suffering than that. And the greatest suffering occurs in the mind. You think of the suffering of Job, when everybody seemed to have abandoned him, and even God seemed to have abandoned him. In fact, isn’t that what caused the greatest suffering for Job? When he seemed to be totally deserted of God, and he cried, “God, why won’t you talk to me? We always used to be such good friends, but you won’t speak to me now.” That would be the worst kind of suffering. I think we shouldn’t oversimplify it too much, on the nature of the suffering that’s mentioned here so much.
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