Those who are severely afflicted have not necessarily fallen from grace, they can actually be in very high standing in so far as grace is concerned. Daemonic plague and trouble does not necessarily disqualify them from their lives calling, rather it might be that God actually prepares them even more and better for their mission by these afflictions. Prayers for deliverance are therefore not inevitably answered positively by God – neither in the short nor long term – because he knows no better cure for wanton arrogance than this daemonic fire, severe pressure and most serious affliction.
Dear friends, this apostolic wisdom is most helpful to ponder faithfully in our own hearts and also to apply as we go about pastoral care. This apostolic experience is elaborated on by St. Paul in his letter for our very benefit. For if that has happened to the most noble of afflicted saints, then it is not a sign of divine disqualification, but rather a sign of highest approval. Just watch him. There he goes – the Lord’s missionary to the gentiles of this world. He goes from East to West and across the entire Roman empire of that day. He’s got tears in his eyes and troubles on his mind. His hands are busy sowing the gospel amongst the nations of his time. He is surrounded by lots of human misery and hardship, while he himself is attacked ferociously by Satan’s evil hordes, pummeling him with fists day in, day out. He is stressed out. He is dead tired. He is pushed to the brink. However he is not given up. God’s power is made perfect in weakness and yes, his apostle can therefore and in this way endure all things through Jesus Christ, who empowers him and sustains him in every situation and at all times. He is like a second Job – a target for the old evil foe and his pernicious ilk.
Almighty and eternal God! By your pure mercy you have called us to the heavenly destination through Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We thank you for your boundless love and we ask you: Let your Holy Spirit awaken us to forget what is behind us, put off sin that still clings so tenaciously to us and is so burdensome to our pilgrims progress, allow us to patiently run the race to which you have ordained us so that we continue to reach for your ultimate destination and finally attain the imperishable crown of glory you have prepared for us through the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord and Savior. Amen. (General evangelical Hymn- and Prayerbook 1871)
“Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us. We tremble not, we fear no ill, they shall not overpower us. This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none, he’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him.” (Martin Luther, 1529 translated by Frederic H Hedge, 1853)
(Translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Friday after Sunday Sexagesimae (2nd Sunday before Lent) as found on Pg. 108 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.)