God has included daemonic afflictions into his divine plans to lead and guide his people towards his desired goal. Reading these verses written by the apostle St. Paul should convince us of this sobering fact. The apostle pleaded three times to the Lord to relieve and release him from this satanic troubling, which burdened, pained and sickened him considerably as he was going about his missionary calling. With this threefold petition the holy apostle demonstrates firstly his trust and faith that the Lord could indeed change this bitter hardship and ease his heavy burden and secondly that the Lord had actually allowed and laid it on him up to now.
What answer does the apostle receive? “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Co 12:9 NIV) That’s nothing else than a denial of the apostolic request. Satan shall not leave you with peace. Even if that old evil foe continues to beat and punish you, you are still to be kept by my grace and this very grace is sufficient for you even amidst all devilish castigation and distress. Even if you are weak and become an invalid under these hellish assaults this will not disqualify you from your missionary service and apostolic office and ministry for my power is made perfect in weakness.
What kind of answer is that? What is it about this mystery that is revealed to us here? Who on earth would have come up with this idea that you can be in God’s good books and still be tormented severely by the devil? Being in God’s grace and suffering pain, disgrace and rebuke are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Who would have guessed that weakness and simplicity actually serve to attract God’s power and perfection as if magnetically? Yet it is like that and with this apostolic illustration all conscientious objections against suffering, discrimination and persecution are disqualified. Those afflicted by demonic troubles need not fear that they are rejected by God in their suffering. Instead the apostles goes a long way to comfort and console them even as they are molested continuously by the devil and when they are pummeled by Satan’s fiery rods and excruciating harassment day in day out.
Jesus, help triumph, prevent going under deceitful assailants launching attacks from behind just facade. Let your power become apparent, stand by me, o King and Lord Jesus Christ, teach me to distinguish the spirits rightly and valiantly combat evil without tiring.
Jesus, help triumph and let me attain ultimate victory to sing your praise and thanks forever with joyful hymns, psalms and spiritual songs, o Jesus, my saviour and my God. Your holy name will be praised most splendidly where you have helped most vigorously – o Jesus, great victor and best helper in need. (Johann Heinrich Schröder, 1667-1699. The translation is rather literal and neither poetic nor hymnal)
(Translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Thursday after Sunday Sexagesimae (2nd Sunday before Lent) as found on Pg. 107 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and puplished in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.)