RD: Which brings me to the most important question, I think. Does God have to take us through suffering? If we’re to be what God wants us to be, somewhere along the way, in one degree or another, must God break us?
MB: I think there is a possibility that there are promises in the Bible that a man could get through life fairly successful without going through a breaking, but I don’t think it’s very probable. Most of the people in the Bible that God used mightily went through a breaking of some sort, and all the men that I have studied since the days of the Bible went through some kind of breaking. It would be very foolish of me to say it all had to be physical because the emotional trauma is sometimes worse than the physical. Sometimes the trauma of an environmental activity such as finances could be so difficult could be so difficult it could deal with a man’s emotions, his mind, even affect his body. So the trauma from that could come from some kind of circumstantial activity could be just beyond measure.
So I believe that every man that God mightily uses in a special way, in a unique way, that man has gone through some phase of suffering and God using that to prepare him for that time. In other words, if we want men on top of the mountain, we have got to realize that in order to make that experience happen on the top of the mountain, there has had to be a valley of preparation in that man’s life to take him to the mountain top of the experience of glory. I just don’t feel like there are any mountains without valleys. Even though there may be a Scripture or two that would indicate that a man might could get through without suffering.
Finally, what happens in your life is you get to wanting God so much–to be so real for yourself and others–that you are willing to pay any price that He might be made that real. Even though you are not sure what is going to happen in that valley.
RD: When you first got out of the hospital back in November, I called you long distance from Georgia and you told me a little bit about what was going on and you made a statement–“God has said a lot of things to me, but I don’t think people will want to hear it.” That intrigued me, and I do know that a lot of people would love to sit down with you as I am doing, and I know that you get a lot of phone calls from people who are hurting and they want to talk with someone who has been there. What is it they are looking for from you–are they hoping, perhaps, for a simple answer to all of this?
MB: Ron, this is possibly the most difficult thing for me to communicate at this time. I am still putting together all the things the Lord showed me. They tell me that I literally died six times–that my heart quit beating and I quit breathing six times. I wondered why God did not show me heaven because we hear of these people dying, going to heaven and coming back. I asked the Lord right after it happened, and He only showed me about three or four weeks ago why He did not let me see heaven. He said, “Son, if I had really let you see heaven, you would not have wanted to come back.” That is a simple answer, but it’s a factual answer. People want healing or an answer–they are looking for a quick formula that they can take like an aspirin, hoping in a matter of minutes that it will all be over. But in that way, I think the purpose of God in allowing suffering would be totally defeated.
The things that the Lord showed me really have just prepared me for what I am now involved in–and that is having the expression of God in my life more distinctly and having the testimony of God in my life with Him being more sufficient. And not only that, but having the testimony of God in my whole ministry, having Him more sufficient. My needs for last year were about $800,000 (that’s including my hospitalization bills, etc.), and so the Lord allowed me to see that He was able to handle all of that. I mean really, almost $800,000 worth, and I would have never thought I was prepared for such a difficult time as that financially. But I was. I was prepared. The insurance policies were intact, God’s people gave in a proper way, and I was able to trust the Lord, which I would not have thought that my faith would have been on that level at all. And I think this point is the thing that He showed me the most, and I’m going to come at this in my fashion and you might have to re-arrange it on your notes.
Recently I was called in my office about a young man who was going to have a brain tumor removed from his brain. They asked me just to pray. After the operation–the operation was not fully successful–they called my office and asked if they would be imposing on me for this young man to call me. He is one of the outstanding revivalists in America. My son assured this group of people that their leader would not be imposing on me if I had a time with him on the phone. I knew he was going to call, and I knew he was facing death within six weeks to six months, so I said, “Lord, what in the world am I going to say to a man that is facing death?” And He said: “Son, I have been preparing you for all these years to talk to this man. You don’t need to come up with something new. You have experienced what you need to say to this man. Sure enough, he came to me and said, “Bro. Manley, what do you do when they say you have six weeks to six months?” I said, “Well, you do what you should do and this is just simply trust Jesus to be your life.”
It was such a simple answer. He said, “I don’t understand.” I said, “Well, I’m still having to trust Him every day. And so one of the unique things that I was specifically talking about when you called that day was that the Lord just showed me so much that all He wants out of my life is glory. If we can get to the place to say, “Lord–whichever, life or death–just as long as You get the glory,” then He is willing to give life.” I think in principles this was experienced by Abraham and Lot, just in principle. Not in precept, in principle–when Abraham came to the place and said, “Lot, you make the choice.” Lot made the choice adn Abraham chose God’s way–to let Lot have the choice of what he wanted. And so when the choice was made God said, “Okay Abraham, Lot’s limited, but you have it all.”
That’s the way it has come now–I have it all in Jesus. There’s a freedom there that I have never had before–freedom about death, about substance, about just life period. One of the things that I saw that I had a hard time accepting is that I could be a man, under such direction of God, that God would count me worthy of suffering. That is very difficult for me to cope with because I had never considered myself a spiritual man. But for me to admit that God has had to give me a thorn in the flesh to keep me down has been a big issue with me. But He has allowed me to see that He has had to do this in order that He might be glorified. And so with that I find a great deal of comfort. For instance, before you came today, there was such pain in my body that I did not know how to deal with it except just to say, “God, you deal with it.” And as we sit here talking I am totally unconscious of this pain altogether. So pain is not an issue with me anymore. All of these things are issues with people: pain, suffering, adversity, finances, all of this is an issue with people. Through this last time God got me to the point where these are not issues anymore. They are issues that come to me, but they are surely opportunities for God to express His glory and that’s the way I see it.
So I find myself getting disturbed when I am trying to communicate this to people because right now I am dealing with people who have very, very serious problems, and I am saying, “Man, these problems are your friend, so to speak.” And they say, “These problems are of the devil.” So I’m having a difficult time communicating this to people. Let me just throw this in just for communicating purposes… We could say that the soldiers killed Jesus, that the sinners–all of us–our sins killed Him. We could say that the Jews that demanded that Jesus be killed rather than Barrabbas–they killed Him. But, we also have to say, God worked this all out according to His plan. My point is you can look at this thing on different levels and be absolutely Scriptural. But I think what the Lord has done is let me see that He’s brought this thing to the level of where I can see God allowing these situations to come as opportunities to express His glory.
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