GAL 4:13–14 – But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.
We see Paul revealing that he was bodily afflicted. Because of this affliction Paul remained at Galatia to father them in the faith. God allowed a bodily affliction to exist in this man of faith for a purpose: God wanted Paul to stay at Galatia, doing His will—the illness was used as a course-changer.
Did the Galatians look down on Paul for having this bodily affliction? Not at all. In fact, Paul commends them. For this bodily affliction was a burden to the Galatian church yet they received him as an angel of God, and as Christ Himself. Some in the body of Christ look spiritually down on others for being sick. They judge them as lacking spiritual growth. This is not what scripture teaches.
You cannot make a method out of any of these biblical examples for your own case, but you can listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to your situation through these biblical examples. As for Paul’s illness, surely he could hear from heaven in prayer, yet his bodily affliction is what spoke in this particular situation. Always remember: God, at times, allows afflicting events to occur in your life for one sole reason: to change your course! And—God is not always obliged to tell you that this is the reason you are being afflicted. You must simply change your course and fulfill the affliction’s purpose. So—as to not be confused—we learn to hear God in our affliction, and at certain times we learn to understand God’s silence in our affliction.
Paul had revelation of the purpose of his affliction, maybe as he suffered it, but maybe later when he penned the Galatian letter. The important thing is that we live and die bearing fruits of righteousness, having an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying regarding our current season of growth. Hear God’s voice in your affliction, and hear God’s silence in your affliction. Then allow the affliction to fulfill God’s design in your life.
An excerpt from “Temple Builders: The High Calling”
John Robert Lucas