at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

The Thorn in My Flesh

As a Christian, I often turn to God’s word—the Bible—for encouragement, hope and even direction in life.  Living life with an autoimmune disease raises lots of questions and fears, and I have no doubt that many often wonder (as I have done) where God’s hand is in all of this.  People that don’t know the God of the Bible may see chronic illness as another reason to question his goodness or even his existence.  Christians may struggle with keeping their focus on Christ and remembering where our hope is found.  Because of this, I decided to put together a blog series reflecting on Scripture that I feel relates to living with rheumatoid autoimmune disease (aka rheumatoid arthritis / RA / RAD) in some way—e.g., as encouragement and hope, as prayer and honesty before God, or as learning to understand God and trust him through all situations in life.  Wherever you're at in your spiritual journey, I hope you find this helpful.  

In this first post, I want to focus on a passage of Scripture from the book of 2 Corinthians (a letter written from the apostle Paul to the early Christians in Corinth). 
Paul says:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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

This is the passage that I learned to cling to in 2007 – when I hit rock bottom with my RAD.  I had a terrible flare in my knees that was more crippling than any other symptom I’ve had before or since—and this was after months of trying everything I could think of to “fix” or “cure” myself.  I was desperate.  But I was desperate for the wrong thing.  If I would only pursue God the way I pursued a “cure”—if I could only be that desperate to love and follow Him—my life would be very different.  I wanted my life to be the way I envisioned it; not the way it was turning out to be.  I wanted to be in control and thought I had the power to do things on my own.  Well, this knee flare proved me wrong.  This was the pivotal point where I realized that this was something that I couldn’t do on my own, and that I needed to learn to rely on God’s strength to get me through each day.  I have since deemed RA the “thorn in my flesh.”

Paul never tells us what the “thorn in his flesh” is, but I imagine it was bad.  He pleaded with God three times to take it away.  I pleaded with God much more than that.  Perhaps I am a little slower than Paul and didn’t catch on to what God was trying to teach me. But I now claim God’s response to Paul as God’s words to me, as well: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  God’s grace is enough to get us through; it is all we really need.  When I tried to be strong on my own, I failed.  But, through God, I can be stronger than I ever could pretend to be on my own.  When I fall down, he picks me up, and I know that he can work through my bad situations in life and bring good out of it: by teaching me things I would not have learned otherwise, and by revealing himself and his love and faithfulness in new ways.

“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.”

See Also:
A Cry for Mercy
Hope, Healing & Restoration

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!