WHAT ABOUT THOSE “STRANGE DISTRACTIONS” WHEN WE WITNESS TO OTHERS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“When sharing the Gospel I have noticed at the most crucial time, diversions which SEEM perfectly timed, have thwarted people’s attention away from hearing the truth. Is this just coincidence? Some of these were extraordinary… almost paranormal. Can believers be buffeted as Paul was in 2 Corinthians 12:7?”
So you have experienced this too, friend? Brother, every believer knows a little something about how annoying those “diversions” are!
I am afraid that those types of “perfectly timed” distractions are very useful to Satan. Just today, a sister in Christ was telling me that her “Christian” (?) husband was using a noisy leaf-blower machine while she was trying to give the Gospel to a lost man doing some work near their home! Whether it is distracting children, an urgent phone call, sudden bad weather, or unexpected illness, there is always something to sidetrack us while we are witnessing to others. The people are distracted and we are distracted.
When the Bible says Paul was “buffeted,” that is the idea of being punched, struck, or handled roughly. It is physical violence. Like when the soldiers spat in Jesus’ face, and “buffeted” Him, and smote Him (Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65). That same term is used to describe Paul and the apostles being physical abused (persecuted) in 1 Corinthians 4:11. Peter uses it to describe a beating or punishment (1 Peter 2:20). So, no, our distractions while witnessing, those are not buffetings. Although, when a convicted lost person or angry “Christian” grabs us and smacks us for telling them the truth of God’s Word, that, my friend, is most definitely “buffeting” in the truest sense of the word!
The thorn in the flesh Paul experienced in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 was in the context of numerous trials and tribulations, including persecution and physical abuse (see verse 10). Personally, I believe that a large part of that thorn in the flesh was that Paul had physical infirmities as the result of his beatings and torture. You have to remember Paul endured many lashings/scourgings (195!), stonings, beatings, et cetera (2 Corinthians 11:22-33). No doubt there were some broken bones and torn muscles involved. Paul’s physical body surely abounded with scar tissue. There seems to be partial blindness in Paul as well. The language in Galatians 4:13-15 is that Paul had a somewhat hideous appearance (related to his eyes?) but that the Galatians had overlooked his physical problems and believed the Gospel that he preached. These difficulties were certainly the direct influence of Satan. Then, Satan would exploit the matter even further. Paul’s critics would come along and say, “And that man—all bruised, beaten, and crippled—he is Jesus Christ’s apostle to you?! No way!” False teachers (religious leaders), looking to deceive, were boasting in their nice appearance and criticizing Paul for his weak appearance in order to discourage the Corinthians from listening to him (2 Corinthians 10:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:12).
Actually, brother, I believe those distractions (noisy kids, for example) that we face during witnessing episodes is largely coincidence, certainly not Satan’s direct influence as in the previous paragraph with Paul. Now, if you are talking about religious people interrupting you, that is Satan’s direct work. There is no coincidence about that! When you are talking to someone about the Gospel or dispensational Bible study, and someone else interrupts you to talk about some religious material, that is how Satan and his devils work. They work in the form of false teaching and false teachers (1 Timothy 4:1-5). The “seducing spirits” there are the voices of people—preachers, teachers, et cetera—speaking error with false gospels, wrongly-divided Scripture, denominational teaching outside of the Bible, and so on. This is where Satan accomplishes his best work. The people he is using may or may not be aware of his influence.
When you get those distractions, you just ask the Holy Spirit to keep your mind on the truth of those verses you have studied. As long as you are sharing Bible verses, those verses will somehow get to that person’s eyes or ears, no matter what the distraction. God’s Word never returns to Him void, and it will prosper wherever He sends it (Isaiah 55:11). Look at all the distractions He has already overcome so we (grace believers) could learn what little we know about His Word! Hope that explains it, friend!