In both his rule over our history and in his answer to our prayers it is axiomatic: the greater the affliction that he permits, the greater his risk that we will fall into despair. The greater his blessings in answer to our prayers, the greater the risk that we will forget him and become arrogant. What afflictions have we had that were great blessings because they drove us to our knees in trusting prayer instead of despair? How many times when he answered did we forget the Giver in the enjoyment of the gift?
Look at all the problems and all the obstacles to following the call of Jesus. Everybody in town seemed to have trouble or sickness or demon possession. Even the mother-in-law of Peter was down sick with a fever that prevented her from hearing the Word and from serving her divine Guest. But each and every one of the problems and hindrances was a blessing in disguise. For each one of them gave people a reason to despair of their own abilities and to seek in Jesus the compassionate and merciful Savior. It is very useful for us to put our own problems and hindrances to following Jesus in this perspective: trials spur us to seek his help; his help should spur us to service. Jesus’ eyes were always and at the same time in two directions: down to rescue and to save us in our need, and up to do it all as an act of worship and obedience to his Father. He prayed. Then he went on to proclaim the gospel and continue his work of casting out the devil.