RD: That’s an amazing thing—when you said earlier the fact God has honored you in this way. A lot of people might think they didn’t want God to honor them if that is what this meant. But, to see it in that way—that is an amazing thing. To see it in that way—to see that what has happened to you is an honor and that your ministry hasn’t been limited but has been expanded. I don’t believe I could think of you and your ministry apart from all that you have endured because that has become your ministry. And, what I guess most people would think is a limitation has actually been a broadening for you. And here you are almost confined to your house, and yet your ministry is growing wider than it ever has before.
MB: Yes. The issue in a ministry, whether it’s a teaching ministry or prophetic type of exhortation or even a singing ministry, is to make it possible for the glory of God to be revealed. And our purpose in any ministry is to be instruments—vehicles—for that glory to be revealed in us and in the people we are dealing with. I finally settled the fact that this is the real issue: every time God got ready to correct or enlarge His people in some way there was a manifestation of His glory in the Old Testament all the way through, and then in the New Testament God would reveal His glory in a different way. So the Lord just rebuked me and said, “Son, if I show up in My glory, I can do more in one day than you could do in a year or more.” So I ceased to fuss at God and as a result of that I am speaking to more people and seeing more glory in my life and the ministry. I am touching more lives today than I ever touched when I was in perfect health, and that is fascinating to me.
I think it can be well illustrated by a statement about my pastor. My pastor is a man that has been a friend of mine for many years, and we never have much time together. I would say something back years ago and it was just another wind blowing. But he said the other day, “When Manley Beasley talks, I listen.” So I am illustrating the fact that now he listens to every word I have to say, and this did not take place in his life until he walked through this experience in 1988 with me and he saw God work in my life physically and financially and in my family’s life. So that is giving me another dimension—that people will come to hear what I have to say where at one time they did not. And when I say something they ponder it because they feel that it might have some depth to it that normally speaking they would have just overlooked.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6 to a church who actually thought they had reached the height of enlargement, “Be ye also enlarged.” So men come to me now and say, “I’ve done everything I know to do at my church and I’ve done everything I wanted to do, so what do I do now? Do I go to another church?” And I say, “What about asking God to enlarge you?” He will enlarge you, then He will enlarge His people. So yes, I’m busier now than I’ve ever been in my life.
RD: Like you say, there is a definite dimension in your own life. I can remember the years when we were going through some very difficult times, and my wife never forgets the times when you would call her. I’d be out of town, but you’d call her just to talk and give her comfort and encouragement. The truth of the matter is that we feel safer with you around because we see what God has done and is capable of doing. It’s a lot more encouraging and comforting than if God had just suddenly, miraculously healed you and walked away. In one way your life shows me that God may not answer prayer to be exempted from pain and suffering. That’s a little bit disturbing because we like to think that the only thing missing is a little bit of faith. So everybody, myself included, consider you to be a man of great faith and it’s disturbing when we see that you have to go through this. But what makes you feel safe is that whatever happens, we know you are going to be taking care of. It is disturbing, but it is greatly encouraging.
MB: I understand because I have had great heroes through the years that I have gotten to know personally, and now most of them are gone. They were in a measure, not in suffering so much, but in a measure an example to me. I could pick up the phone when I got into difficulty and call them and get help and encouragement and direction. I trust that is basically what you are feeling, but it happens to be in the area of suffering.
About the suffering and faith life—that confuses people. Most think a man of faith should be exempt from certain adversities. The problem they’ve got there is they haven’t read the 11th chapter of Hebrews. They’ve only read the first half. If they would read the second half they would realize that it is by faith that these people were able to endure all kinds of things. Of course, you know it is a blessing to be around because the Lord has allowed me to help people when they were in need of help. The amazing thing about it is that I have just been impressed at times to call someone, and they were in need of help.
There is one person I have been dealing with since 1973 that has arthritis. This person doesn’t call me often, but I know occasionally will call and I know why they are calling. It’s good because at this point I have very few people that I can call, but I do have a few. It’s very comforting to me, and it would be a great loss if we lost them. For instance, Corrie Ten Boom was one of those people to me, and I felt a great loss when she passed on. In fact, I have two of her books right there: Five Silent Years and another one. We do lean on people and draw strength and life from the fact that we know here’s a person that has been through it. if they can do it, by the grace of God I can learn how if God chooses to take me that way.
RD: Yes, that is exactly what I had in mind. If suddenly I find myself mysteriously ill and the doctor tells me I have six weeks to six months to live, how do I pray? What do I say?
MB: I would naturally cry out to God. I think a person that receives that news as a Christian would respond in kind. Ask God to get you to the place in your life where you can say, “Lord, that You might be glorified, regardless of what is going on in my life, whether I live or die.” It might take you some time to get there. It took me seven months to get there the first time I had a crisis. I had not been ill—I was 39 years old, and I finally got there by just searching the Scriptures and praying that God would speak that word to me. The amazing thing about it is that when I was able to say those words, I wasn’t even aware of the depth He was dealing with in me. I just picked it up and ran on my way rejoicing and praising God and giving Him thanks from my heart in all things. So I would say, “Lord, help me to make the corrections and see the purpose that I might enjoy this even though it is painful.”
RD: So when you say “trust the Lord and have faith,” it’s not just believing as hard as you can that you are going to get well, but it is something else. What is the difference?
MB: Having faith in a time of illness is not a man-madeeffort to trust that God will do it. It’s a man discovering what God is up to and joining Him in that. Of course, as His purpose is being revealed, He may just instantly take you out of the problem. On the other hand, He may give you grace to handle the situation. And when you get there you can say with Paul, “I take pleasure in this.” But you have to be there to say that. Of course, if He takes you out of it, naturally you’d get pleasure and say thanks to the Lord, but what we really mean here is that trusting the Lord in that time is not getting down and claiming some verse that we might hunt up in the Bible on a humanistic level. It’s turning to the Lord to find out what He is up to and being persuaded of this and then embracing it. That way God will get the glory out of the situation, and you will not misrepresent God in the situation, and the devil will be defeated. This is very important because a lot of people are being misled to think that if you get ill, everyone can just be instantly healed. An honest study of the Bible and church history will indicate to you that is not the case. When adversity comes upon me or some other person in some adverse way, I say this is just God’s way of calling us, getting our attention to turn to Him and seek His face and to allow Him to reveal His will to us, enabling us to cope with the situation in the way that would glorify Him most. That’s the way I like to do it.
RD: Then if I believe that God wants me to be well any time, every time, and when I find myself in sickness or other kinds of suffering my primary goal is to get out of it, then that causes me to miss what God really has in it for me. The more I expect to be exempt the less strength I have to face it when it comes and the more likely I am to really miss what God has for me.
MB: Right. For instance, if you have the mentality that Satan is the only thing and all you’ve got to do is deal with Satan then you are going to miss the purpose. But of course Satan is there and Satan does have to be dealt with. But you need to see God’s purpose in allowing Satan to do this. When you see that purpose then Satan will almost automatically be dealt with in the way he should be dealt with, and you get the benefit of it. Some people are sick—like the blind man in John 9 and Lazarus in John 11—for the purpose that God might reveal His glory. But then some people are sick with a thorn in the flesh—like Paul in Galatians. He had to stay there and that was how the church was started—over his sickness. He saw the greater purpose of God in that sickness and I’m sure the devil delivered that sickness to his body, but he saw the greater purpose and that church was built up.
Then, of course, Paul in 2 Corinthians 4 definitely tells us how the body responds to adversity, then in 2 Corinthians 12 we have the story of the thorn in the flesh telling us how God deals with this adverse situation. In those cases we have the Bible—there was always a God-purpose for every situation that came up. So if we just have the mentality, “Well I broke natural laws and therefore my body is suffering,” then that’s all we get out of it. That is very light. God has more in it for us even though we may have brought this thing on by breaking natural laws. If we just say, “The devil is the author of this,” then that’s all we get when in truth God may have allowed him to try to defeat us in order for God to make us overcomers.
You see, God tells us in Revelation about the seven churches. He wanted every church he addressed to be overcomers. If that’s the case, then there has got to be something to overcome. So He allows the devil to create antagonism in our lives that we might learn how to cope with the devil, simply resisting him. How do you resist the devil? He has to be resisted, but man asks God what is going on and God shows him, and he learns the purpose of it and has learned more than just the idea of rebuking the devil and moving on. He has learned that God is using this to teach him how to be an overcomer in all of his circumstances. I understand that is what God is after.
RD: Then the greatest possession that a Christian can have is not necessarily a suffering-free life or existence, and yet at the same time somebody has switched the price tags. For many of us, if not most of us, we feel the greatest goal is to seek the life that is totally free of any kind of suffering. We believe this is what God wants for us.
MB: I feel that man misses the truth that God wants to finish out the suffering of the church. I don’t understand why God even allowed suffering to be such an instrument in the life of the Lord Jesus, but He learned obedience by suffering. Of course, He was the Son of God, but He was also the Son of Man. If He had to learn by suffering, I do not feel that man can be exempt from suffering. Although I do feel that it is the nature of man to try to get through life with as little suffering as possible. But when he has suffering and learns that God is not hurting him and that God is moving in his life for God’s benefit and his benefit, then of course he gets a different attitude about suffering and that human nature to get through life without suffering is gone away.
It would be rather selfish, really selfish, for a man to seek God five hours a day for the purpose that he might get by suffering. It wouldn’t be suffering for him to seek God five hours a day for the purpose that God might be glorified in whatever way He chose. So I see a great deal of personal self-centeredness in the life of a person that really wants to get through without any kind of suffering whatsoever. And that’s the way I look at it.
RD: Well, I have one more question. Was it worth it?
MB: Ron, I have been saying this in the last few weeks to illustrate, to define what you have asked me. If I had 1,000 lives and I knew that I had to go through it with all of those lives, I would give them all to Him because I do think it is worth it. To have the joy and peace that you are prepared for whatever the devil throws at you. You may not understand the reality of that victory, but you know the way through to that victory. It’s a great assurance, and it’s a very comforting position to be in this life. I rejoice in being in that position, and so I think God. I count it all joy.
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