2 Corinthians 12:7-9
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 form 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.
I write this post you are reading today on January 25th, one month since Christmas. What strikes me hard is not how fast the days have flown by, but the variety of ailments I've endured during this time.
It starts on Christmas Eve day. I wake with one ear stuffed up. No amount of coaxing with wax softeners alleviates my condition. Being partially deaf at Christmas makes it rough, let me tell you!
As soon as the holiday is over, I head out to our local Urgent Care with high hopes the doctor can clear up the ear. But he can't!!! This has never happened before! He suggests I go home, now that my ear is washed out as well as it can be for now, and use a wax softener overnight to see if it works.
I follow the doctor's orders to the letter. Next morning? Clear as a bell! What a blessed relief!
But not one meant to last . . .
Because within two days, here come the cold, and the cough, and the sneezing, and the ravaging of tissue boxes. No fever, but I'm miserable, and definitely moving around in a slow-motion fog.
I try a generic allergy reliever, as that has helped my colds in the past, yet it's a weak substitute for the Day-Quil I finally end up taking. But after three days, I quit, sniffles or no sniffles. The drug is suppressing my appetite - not a good thing for a person who should be gaining weight, not losing it!
Back to the allergy pills I go. I continue to suffer like this until the third week of January, when I take granddaughter, Virginia Rose, to my mother's for the weekend. Thankfully, after these horrendous weeks, the cold has definitely subsided, and is manageable at long last.
Just when I feel I've turned the corner and outrun the creeping crud, I am inexplicably hit with a severe pain in my shoulders and upper back. These not only make it almost impossible to stand straight, but alarmingly, affect each breath inhaled, infusing it with the harsh reminder of this burden. Don't ask me how many aspirins I go through, because I don't recall.
What I do recall, though, is praying fervently to God. Not that I hadn't prayed about the other illnesses I'd been saddled with, but this time, I ask specifically: It it's Your will, Lord, please ease the pain in my back and chest. I just don't know how much more of this I can take.
My prayer is answered! Within twenty-four hours, the aches and tightness are gone! For the first time in a month, I think, I can finally, finally get back to the gym.
And that's precisely what I do. Only to wake up the next morning with my right hip joint so stiff and sore, I can hardly walk, let alone going up and down stairs. Okay, Lord, is this some kind of joke? You relieve me in one area of my body only to torment me in another?
Then Paul's words from 2 Corinthians hit me as brightly as a lone shaft of sunlight pierces an ominous bank of clouds. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
And I see in a flash that during these trying times, I have prayed more to God, talked more with Him, and relied upon His mercy and strength like never before. God's intention was never to punish me, but to set me straight.
He knows my word for the year is "huge." And while I morosely think that all these infirmities are a HUGE inconvenience, He sees it as a HUGE opportunity for me to draw closer to Him.
Thank you, Father! It's worked in a HUGE way!
Have you ever struggled with a thorn in your flesh?