Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Thorn in My Flesh

A Thorn in My Flesh
By Tamara “Tami” Blue

For years I have struggled with physical limitations and afflictions which seem to start from the top of my head all the way down to my feet. And for years I have prayed for healing from the various afflictions and pain that I deal with on a daily basis. Many do not comprehend the extent of struggle I deal with because to look at me one would think I was healthy and fully able bodied. I try not to complain too much and my mind often tries to override my body. My will is strong but fights against the reality of my physical state and often only succeeds in landing my rear grounded for several days at a time.

As I have shared some of what I am going through with a friend- she has said what I am going through is “illegal”. God love her, I thank her for her faith and desire in me being healed. But the Bible clearly indicates that God allows things which we would like to think are “illegal” or “unauthorized attacks”. We, in our natural mind can’t comprehend a loving God allowing such a thing. But this week after coming home from another doctor’s visit, I found myself crying & praying to God once again to heal my hurting body. He lovingly nudged me to open my Bible and as I flipped it open- it opened to 2 Corinthians 12 and my eyes immediately fixed on verses 7-10:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I’ve read this many times before but this time around it hit the hurt in my mind over the struggle and shed great light. God has allowed for me to be buffeted me for purpose. Again, the mind wants to override this thought because it would seem that I am accepting this position and letting go of faith in my healing, I’m not. Another such person in the Bible would be Jacob-

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” –Genesis 32:24-26

Throughout the Bible there are those whose speech was impaired, they suffered physical affliction; they suffered great persecution and countless challenges. And, what about the book of Job… I recognize that I’m not promised healing in this lifetime. I am though promised that God will never leave me, nor forsake me, that I am chosen, called and destined as a follower of Christ and a daughter of the Most High!

My friend and I are similar in our desire that none should struggle affliction. There are times when God fires my faith so strong for the healing of others. He has woken me up at night to pray, alerted my spirit during the day and given me clear words to deliver of assured healing. And, praise be to God- I have been witness to His very words about promised healing coming to pass in others’ lives. But still to this day I am not yet healed and as time has progressed so has the onset of more afflictions. I am yet again facing two surgeries which bring the hope of healing yet also a warning that it may not.

Regardless of the challenges I face, possible surgeries and or a life time of struggle, affliction and pain, I need to accept God’s purpose in allowing this. And, I need to accept that I may never be completely healed while alive in this body. I am learning that although it does not feel okay physically and at times even mentally, it is because God’s grace is sufficient to get me through. Because I am weak, it allows Him to be strong. I cannot depend upon my own strength to succeed in His purposes; I am completely reliant upon Him. Everything I do or He sets me to do is dependent upon His strength to help me accomplish the tasks He’s given.

Long ago I made the vow to God that my life was His to use as He wished, my life was not my own. God has held me to that promise and it becomes more and more evident as time goes on. It is hard for me to sit too long, stand for very long, bend this way or that way, hard for me to use my arms, hands and even hold my head up for long periods… And, even travel is difficult and yet it is one of the biggest desires of my heart. Because of this it makes it difficult for me to hold down a regular full time job outside of the home. I am also limited in the activities that I do and or participate in. It is at times very frustrating for someone with a very active mind such as me. Mentally, I am a can do person. Mentally, when someone says to me I can’t- I like to prove, I can. I am persistent in some things but am learning to let go in others. I have proven to myself (by God’s grace) that I can do and can accomplish great things. But the moment I step outside of His timing and or will- He shows me “I can’t” through the thorn(s) in my flesh.

I realized that He is teaching me the art of “suffering well” and yet still stand on and in faith and in His promises for my life, and for the lives of others. I am realizing that though I am not healed in body- He has allowed me to be a conduit, a vessel in which He delivers healing to others. And I am reminded of many great evangelists, prophets, teachers… that have also served God in spite of the buffeting of affliction in their own bodies. I am reminded of the great exploits they did in partnership with God and via His grace & strength, not their own.

Might have God known something that maybe I didn’t? Could these afflictions actually be a source of salvation to my own pride? Might I have become too proud, arrogant and or puffed up in my own flesh if my body were healthier, fit, and or more able? Could it be that though I can’t imagine myself overly proud- that God could? Could He have sent a messenger of satan to buffet me for my own benefit? It seems absurd to our natural thinking and yet God uses foolishness to confound the wise.

The area where my healing has come and continues to come is in my thinking and understanding. God is expanding my understanding and knowledge of His ways. He is teaching me the art of taking on the mind of Christ- which doesn’t always make sense to man but is perfectly logical to God, His ways and eminent knowledge. He is reminding me of who He is and who I am not via various aspects of my life and thinking. He is showing me that Paul who is considered one of the greatest apostles- suffered affliction but that He learned the art of suffering well despite the thorn in his flesh. He learned to “count it all joy” because it was small compared to the call of God on His life and to the coming glory and eternal promises.

I have known and know many people who are afflicted in one way or another who though afflicted have learned the art of suffering well and living out the call of God upon their lives despite any challenges they have or do face. I both admire them and hope to as they have- really learn the art of suffering well despite the thorns in my flesh.

Is there a thorn or are there thorns in your flesh, mind, emotions, thinking… allow God to show you His grace for your life. May the Spirit of revelation be upon you to help you understand and know the will of God for your life! Be empowered by His strength and His Word which is all sufficient.

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