2 Corinthians 12: 7-8 (NIV), “…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.”
This verse has carried me through some of the toughest seasons I have walked through in my life. It is my go to, my comfort and my reminder of the sufficiency of God’s grace in our lives. When Paul references the “thorn in his flesh” he never really gives detail as to what his thorn was. There have been many speculations about it and some say it was a physical ailment, others say it was a temptation but the fact is we do not know what he was referring to when he referenced his thorn. I am certain there is a reason there was never a clearly defined source…not having it spelled out for us allows us to relate with the pain Paul was feeling no matter what we are going through in life.
There have been many “thorns” throughout my life but the one, thus far, that has changed me the most was a thorn of sickness. In 2009, on a very normal day at work I wasn’t feeling well. My dear friend walked into my office and by the look on her face (she was trying to be as kind as possible) I knew something was wrong. I went to the doctor immediately and was diagnosed with Bells Palsy. I was given a prescription and told I would be perfectly fine in 6-8 weeks. Well that seemed like eternity but no big deal, I could handle that.
The left side of my face was completely paralyzed and very disfigured. “It will only last a little while,” is what I kept telling myself over and over. Then…the sucker punch. Normally, Bells Palsy creates very little pain but in my case, the nerve damage was extensive and the pain quickly grew to excruciating over the days following my diagnosis. I remember telling my doctor that I didn’t care if what he gave me killed me but I could not be conscience and in the amount of pain I was in. I struggled to sleep, could not eat solid food and was absolutely miserable. Eight weeks passed with no improvement and I sunk into a state of depression, shame and anger. I couldn’t understand why God allowed sickness and pain…I had said yes to serving and following Him. I had surrendered my life to Him…why would He allow this?? The anger in my heart grew and my health deteriorated.
The physical and emotional pain seemed unbearable. I begged God to take His hands off of me and His grip tightened every time. I mustered up enough strength each day to put on a front at work but at home, in my quiet place, I crumbled. All I saw was darkness, pain and hopelessness. None of the many doctors I visited could explain why I hadn’t improved and why I had the level of pain I was experiencing, nearly four months into it and zero improvement.
I felt Paul’s desperation in 2 Corinthians…I knew how badly he wanted the source of his pain removed because I was there. I was tormented and I wanted my circumstances to change immediately. Why was God silent? But then…
Next week…Thorn – The Blessing…