. . .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 12:7-10
The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Corinth that he was given a thorn in his flesh. It is unknown exactly what his “thorn” was; some believe it was malaria, epilepsy or an eye disease. Whatever it was, it was a constant and debilitating problem for him which affected his life and his ministry. Three times he prayed for the Lord to remove this pain but he was not healed. He did however learn to depend on Christ’s strength rather than his own and to see his physical limitations as an opportunity to let Christ’s grace and power to shine through.
I have my own “thorns”. I have a condition called Fibromyalgia. For years I lived with chronic debilitating pain with no diagnosis. I saw doctors and specialists who told me they couldn’t find anything. I started to think I was maybe a little crazy. How could it be that I could be in so much pain so much of the time with nothing being wrong?
I was finally able to get the diagnosis a couple of years ago and while the pain hasn’t improved, there is some comfort in at least knowing that I am not the only person who suffers from this and that it’s not just in my head.
It truly is a “thorn” in my body; one that causes pain not only physically but emotionally as I am limited in what I can do and how I interact with my family. I’ve had to learn to ask for help more. But God, He gives me grace and I am able to get up each morning, to live and function despite the pain.
Additionally, I have suffered from anxiety attacks since I was a teenager. I have been on medication and have also tried holistic therapies. I have been mostly symptom free for some time now though I do still occasionally get panic attacks.
It has been a challenge in many ways to come to term with these “thorns”. As a Christian I do believe that God could heal me and I still pray that He will, but I accept that He has chosen not to for the time being.
I truly feel that in my weakness both physically and emotionally, He is greater still and I’ve learned to lean on Him rather than on my own strength. His grace is sufficient.