One of my favorite phrases in Italian is ti faccio verdere—literally “I will make you see,” or as we say in English, “I will show you.” The first time I heard this phrase I didn’t like the implication of the literal translation as forcing someone to see something. I could almost imagine keeping my eyes squeezed shut so that nobody could make me see something I don’t want to see. But hearing the kind way this was said to me, I came to love this phrase and its fraternal twin: ti faccio sapere—“I will make you know,” or as we say in English, I will explain to you.
Last night I had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend and have dinner at his house. Samuele is a well-traveled and sophisticated person who speaks English, but we always communicate in Italian. As he shares more and more of his interesting life, I understand that some things really are more beautifully communicated in Italian. It seems that the Italians can make language as delicious as they make food.
After a pleasant evening, Samuele walked me to the subway. We found that the subway was closed and I had to take a substitute bus to a subway station three stops away. As the bus passed the first subway station from Samuele’s house, I saw a fire truck. I knew then that it was a suicide, which was later confirmed by the news. That station where the man threw himself under a train is called De Angeli—“from the angels.” But I don’t think he was hoping for angels to take him up to Heaven. These subway suicides happen every so often in Milan—and more frequently since the financial crisis hit Italy. And this is the fourth suicide in six months that has been done either by someone I know or by someone physically near me.
The increasing frequency of suicides is evidence of things that are happening in the spiritual realm. The devil is working overtime to discourage people to the point of suicide. And that’s easy enough for him to do with people whose faith is in their finances.
But I recently heard a sermon by Joseph Prince. He said that we are wrong when we think (as we often do) that the devil starts messing up your health or your finances, and then we must pray and ask God to come in and make these things right again. What he said was, “God is not running behind the devil, but it’s the devil that is running behind God.” He said that the devil sees God pouring out blessings on your health or finances or work, and steps in to try and stop the blessings. And what do we do? We start worrying: Could these headaches be brain tumors? Am I about to lose my job? And we toss and turn at night, trying to figure out how to go about controlling the damage—even when no real damage has been done. Then he quoted:
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:6-10
He said that many people think that the “thorn in his flesh” is some kind of illness, but Joseph Prince said that other places in the Bible where that term is used, it is always a person—and it appears to be here, too. But literally it’s a “messenger of Satan,” a fallen angel (angels are mostly messengers).
Here’s the part that blew my mind: he said that just like Paul, our response to these irritations, this petty meddling of the devil should be to thank God for the blessings He is pouring out on us. Stop whining and start worshiping, praising, thanking God for the blessings. It’s counter-intuitive (and I love that!), but nothing will make the devil flee faster than praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God. And then those blessings can really start to flow as God intended.
Joseph Prince explained the flow of blessings from God like a hose from God in Heaven to us here on earth. The blessings are always flowing, flowing, flowing, but when we worry, for example, about our finances, then we are tying a knot in the hose and the blessings can’t flow. That’s exactly what the devil wants!
It’s important that we keep our family, friends, and neighbors in our prayers. But the devil’s interference in this world is not a reason to despair. In fact, these are times when people need Jesus more than ever. You might be the only Jesus that some of your co-workers and casual acquaintances may ever know. Many Christians these days are shy about sharing their faith, afraid of being laughed at, called “politically incorrect” or “intolerant,” or of losing their job. But what if you had the chance to tell someone about Jesus and give them the hope that can change their whole outlook from suicidal to joyful? And what if you are the only person that God has given this chance to? I will “make” you see Jesus! I will make you know Jesus!