Thus, the Comforter, the Intercessor, is at work in Paul's spirit as He implores, urges, and entreats Paul to share all that is in his innermost being with his Lord and Saviour. And, beloved, what follows is an intimate revelation of the Spirit of Prayer, an intimate unveiling of that which takes place between our Lord and His bondservants when they are in "any trouble:" a Spirit to spirit, Heart to heart, Soul to soul sharing between the Lord and His bondslaves. So, let us listen, and let us move into union with the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Prayer, as the reality of eternal intercession flows by the Spirit between the Lord and His servant Paul -
"Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me."
"And He said unto me, "My Grace is sufficient for thee: for My Strength and Power are made perfect - fulfilled and completed and show themselves most effective" -
[And Paul responds,] "Therefore, most gladly will I the rather boast in my weaknesses in order that the power of the Christ [like the Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies of the Tent of Meeting] may take p its residence in me [working within me and giving me help]. Wherefore I am well content in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, and in circumstances under which I am subject to extreme pressure on behalf of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am filled with ability and power."
Beloved, this is the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God, this is the Spirit of Prayer. And if we want to know what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was )?) what it was that the Lord permitted to "buffet" him (?) - it was anything that made him weak -the "thorn in the flesh" was anything that made Paul weak and wholly dependent upon the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul lists five things that made up this "thorn in the flesh," and they are: "infirmities ... reproaches ... necessities ... persecutions... distresses..."
To Paul, it looked as if these five things would end his ministering service in behalf of his Lord; and most certainly this was satan's intent. But instead, these five things removed that which could hinder the Lord from living His life in and through Paul; for these five things removed Paul's greatest hindrance, - his own self-worth, his own self-righteousness. Remember, five is the number that sums up the Grace of God; and these five things caused Paul to become a reality in his life: "My Grace is sufficient for thee: for My Strength is made perfect in weakness."
And, beloved, what is true of Paul is true of each of those who have chosen to endure until God has His End through His Way. This is comfort, this is reality, this is the Spirit of Prayer - This is "the comfort" which has its source in God alone - This is "the comfort" which has its source in the One Who comforteth us in all our tribulations that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God - this is the Spirit of Prayer.
Now upon this note, let us return to a similar scene in the Book of Job; a scene where we find Job "in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, and in distresses." And just as Job reaches what seems to be the lowest depths of weakness and despair, we find the same Lord Who ministered to Paul, ministering to Job "the comfort" he truly needed: "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind" (Job 38:1).
Now, we know that in the preceding chapter Elihu implies that a storm is approaching; however, the word "whirlwind" as it is used here has more meaning that a literal storm. The word "whirlwind" or "tempest" implies being tossed, and violently shaken by adversity; it indicates sore troubles. A phrase in Isaiah 54:11 gives us a clear definition and picture of the word "whirlwind" as it applies to Job: "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest (whirlwind), and not comforted." There was a great storm in Job's life - he was being tossed by adversity, and everything in his life was being violently shaken: "Then the Lord answered Job out of the tempest."
Eliphaz had answered Job, and Job had answered Eliphaz; but there were not lasting results. Bildad had answered Job, and Job had answered Bildad; but there were no lasting results. Zophar had answered Job, and Job had answered Zophar; but there were no lasting results. Elihu had answered Job, and his answer seemed to be the best of all, but there were not lasting results.
Then the Lord answered Job and then Job answered the Lord, and said, "Behold I am vile; what shall I answer Thee?" I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further."
Then the Lord answered Job and then Job answered the Lord, and said:
"I know, I know, that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear now, I pray Thee: I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee, wherefore I abhor myself, and I repent in dust and ashes."
Beloved, when "the Lord answered Job," He revealed Himself to Job in such a way that it caused Job to truly know and see and understand Him and His Way. "Then," and only "then," Job answered the Lord, and said: "...I abhor myself, and repent ..." Thus, the Lord's End was being achieved in Job's life; The Lord, the Eternal One, brought forth His eternal results in and through Job's innermost being. Hence, this battle in the battle-of-the-ages was reaching its purposed end - satan, who was seeking to devour God's purpose in Job's life, was soundly defeated because there was an increase of the reality of Christ in the innermost being of this one the Lord called, "My servant Job." Through His Own Way, the Lord had prepared a larger place for Himself in Job.
(continued with # 20 - "And the Lord Turned the Captivity of Job, When Job Prayed for His Friends")