Do you have a thorn in the flesh? I alluded to mine in a previous post — I have trouble sleeping. When I don’t sleep well, I’m irritable, cranky, and find it hard to focus. I often don’t accomplish all the tasks I had planned for the day. My daily practices of exercise, devotional reading and journaling become chores.
The apostle, Paul, had a problem like this, too. He describes it in 2 Corinthians 12:7:
“ Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. “
We’re not sure what Paul’s illness or disability was, although some have suggested he had poor eyesight (he was described as squinting). Whatever, it was, it bothered him, and he reports that he prayed a number of times for God to remove it, without avail.
I, too have prayed and tried every suggested remedy I can. I’ve read the books and followed the dos and don’ts. I’ve tried herbal remedies and OTC sleep aids; deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Nothing works consistently. My doctor’s conclusion is — it’s simply age-related and something I’ll have to learn to live with.
According to Paul there are a couple of reasons God may allow us to suffer from such small annoyances. The first was already mentioned in the verse above:
- To keep us from becoming conceited
We are all too prone to take credit for our good works, becoming puffed up and vain. The second reason is related and expressed in the verse that follows:
- “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
In other words, we need to learn to depend upon God. Whatever we accomplish is only possible through abiding in Christ. He is the vine and we are the branches. Any strength that we have comes from Him. When we find ourselves in a position of weakness, we realize that.
So, give thanks for everything during this month of Thanksgiving, even your aches and pains and weaknesses. God is at work, and you can lean on Him.
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 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 12:9b-10