The apostle Paul knew some deep and uncommon dimensions of God, little wonder he exclaimed in Romans 11:33 : “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”. It is innate in humans to want to maintain a good reputation and demeanour before other men and to avoid any stigmatising situations as much as possible. However, God works in ways that are contrary to the ways of human reason and logic. There’s a God orchestrated stigma upon the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the greater the measure of the anointing and grace God wants to bestow upon a man, the greater the corresponding stigmas. This sounds foolish to the human mind because the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit because they’re foolishness to him and neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

 1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them , because they are spiritually discerned.

Amazing stories abound in scripture, of men and women though laden with many infirmities who were used by God greatly for His purposes and to the astonishment of both men and the kingdom of darkness (1 Corinthians 4:9-13, 2 Corinthians 4:11-12). God in His omniscience use stigmas and reproaches to keep us humble in the centre of His will so as to be safeguarded us from pride which invariably exposes us to a fall or satanic attacks and onslaughts (2 Corinthians 12:6-9).

 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 KJV

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

 2 Corinthians 4:11-12 KJV

For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

 2 Corinthians 12:6-9 KJV

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be , or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

In the same vein, when the prophet Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14; that a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a child, and His name shall be called Immanuel, little did he know the gravity and outworking of what he prophesied about. Mary comes on the scene; a teenage virgin who was known as a godly and devout Jew but was found pregnant (with the child of the Holy Ghost) even though she was betrothed to Joseph. The ramifications of such an atrocious decision of getting pregnant out of wedlock was not just ostracisation, but the death penalty as spelt out in the laws of Moses (Matthew 1:18-19, Deuteronomy 22:13-21).

 Matthew 1:18-19 KJV

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man , and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

 Deuteronomy 22:13-21 KJV

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: and the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; and, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her , saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; and they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

The questions that come to one’s mind is why would God put this young virgin in this impossible position for His greater purposes to be fulfilled? If He was the one behind this unfortunate situation, why couldn’t He make it bearable for Mary by sending out an angel as a herald to go into the city and surrounding villages to make a public announcement that He was the one behind the uncommon predicament Mary was in?. Why would God in His omniscience want to publicly shame this young virgin and expose her to ridicule? Indeed, the scripture is true when it says God’s ways are not man’s ways,  neither are His thoughts as man’s thoughts (Isaiah 55:10).

 Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God usually expose His people to stigmas and reproaches to keep them humble and dependent on Him. He causes them to see how weak and helpless they are without Him. God knows that the very areas where we are confident in ourselves are the very places where we would suffer devastating defeats from the enemy. To keep us focused and safe, He allows stigmas and reproaches because the greater the anointing and grace, the greater the corresponding stigmas.

In the same vein, Mary chosen by God to do the ultimate honours of carrying the son of God in her womb which will invariably lead to salvation and deliverance of mankind would not be exempted from going through God’s timeless and ageless wisdom in choosing and dealing with His own vessels.

In conclusion, Dr Steve Maraboli puts it succinctly: “ new levels , new devils ”. This is particularly true in the life of the apostle Paul who fought with beasts at Ephesus as a greater measure of the anointing of the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon him with a corresponding measure of stigmas and reproaches (1 Corinthians 15:32, 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

 1 Corinthians 15:32 KJV

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 KJV

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

If you’re presently going through dealings in God’s hands and your heart is fainting and your understanding is unfruitful, I want to encourage you that even when you seem not to see His hands or face, you can trust His heart as His intentions are always to do you good and make you conform to the image of His Son (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28-29).

 Jeremiah 29:11 KJv

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD , thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 Romans 8:28-29 KJv

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Stay blessed!!!!