April 2, 2008

Thorn in the flesh

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 persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have always had chronic headaches and pretty much struggled with them until the pregnancy of my fifth child in which they disappeared. This past year, they returned and returned with a vengeance. They actual reappeared when I began this blog. They have caused me a lot of pain and sleeplessness and I’ve spent much time praying for them to leave me as they did before but it has not happened.

For me, I refer to them as my thorn in the flesh. (2 Corinthians 12:7) Now don’t get me wrong, I would never compare myself to Paul and the afflictions that he suffered but I do believe that Satan uses things to distract us from God and His will for our lives and for me, this is my distraction. It's what Satan uses in hopes that I will walk away and give up on what it is I feel that God is leading me to do.

I spent many days praying for relief and waiting for some kind of an answer. Now I know God has heard me because in the mean time, He has clearly answered several other requests that I have laid before Him so here is what He is teaching me at the moment.

To wait on Him. His ways are not my ways and His timing is not my timing. He does not always answer prayers when we would like them answered. He allows all things so that they may bring glory and honor to Him.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

His grace is enough. I have had to learn the importance of Corinthians 12:9-10. He has become my strength because on my own, I can not accomplish the things He has set before me. My writing has continued amongst the pain of my headaches because I am doing it through His strength and not my own.

Be thankful always. I have learned to be thankful for the circumstances in which I am placed. He has a will for my life and if this is part of His plan then I can surly endure the pain of a headache if Christ had to endure the cross for my salvation.

Be joyous always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1Thessalonians 5:16-18

What would you consider your “thorn in the flesh” to be? What distracts you from experiencing God? Is it chronic pain, a broken relationship, a hurtful past or a difficult decision you have to make? Satan will always throw things at us so that our eyes are diverted from the One who has a plan for our life. There is nothing that he wants more than to see us focus on ourselves and the “pain” that we are in at the moment but when we turn our eyes upon Christ and totally rely on Him, we then experience a rest and peace that comes from knowing His strength.



"Father, help release me of the distractions of this world so that I may not give up on what it is You have me do. Help me to recognize Your will in my life and that my temporary pains are nothing when compared to a life spent in eternity with You. Keep me focused on the road You have set before me and teach me rejoice in every circumstance."
Written by Nicole

1 comment:

  1. Today's blog is especially powerful because: A) you are sharing your own personal situation and experiences; and B) You are sharing about something that most folks would see as a negative.....terrible headaches!! But you have turned this health issue into an opportunity to glorify God in the pain and to apply His principles of waiting on Him, accepting His grace; and fostering a heart of thankfulness in your daily life and even pushing through the headache pain (by His grace) to write this blog. What an encouragement for those who have their own "thorn".....I read a devotional today that correlates to your blog post. You don't have to post it but I hope you find it encouraging:

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    The Captivity Of Discontent
    by Jon Walker

    “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content]—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:11–12 (HCSB)

    *** *** ***
    The Apostle Paul, who was blessed with great privileges – but also beaten and stripped of everything he had – taught that true contentment must be learned: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12, NIV)

    He teaches that God gives us strength to be content. This is an important spiritual truth to learn because if wealth, good looks, or the seemingly perfect spouse brought lasting contentment, then Hollywood would be filled with some of the most content and happy people on earth. But it’s not.

    What does this mean?

    Don’t compare yourself to others – When you compare your life with someone else’s, the only place it can lead is discontent. There will always be people who appear to be better off than you, but you don’t know their real circumstances.
    I recall counseling a husband many years ago, who said he wished his wife could be more like so-and-so, and he named a woman in our congregation. What he didn’t know was that the woman was an alcoholic who was causing awful heartache and stress for her family and her husband. That’s why the Bible says it is unwise to compare ourselves with others or even with ourselves! (2 Corinthians 10:12)

    Be grateful for who you are and what you have – Learning to be content requires that you stop any “when and then” thinking – “When I am ___________, then I’ll be happy.” (You fill in the blank.) You may actually be content for a little while but then someone else or something else will come along and drain the contentment from your life.
    But listen – you are unique. God created you to be like nobody else, so why would you want to be anyone else? God is perfect, and you were his perfect choice to be you! Understanding that is a huge step toward being content with your life.

    And then look at all the things God has given you. So often we allow what we don’t have to dominate our focus to the point we forget the many, wonderful things we already have – not only material things, but far more important blessings, such as family and friends.

    Give yourself to others – If you will begin giving yourself to others, sharing what things you do have, sharing your time and your talents, you will find yourself learning to be content. Helping others will give you an appreciation for what you have and who you are but, more importantly, you will find yourself growing in contentment. Why? Because God designed us to serve and share with others and until we do that, we will feel great discontent.

    Focus on things with eternal value – The real secret to becoming content is to focus on the things that have eternal value. It may be a familiar teaching to you, but Jesus said we should store up our treasures in heaven, and not on earth “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19–21, NIV)

    Think about the things in your life – What will last forever? What will last at least for your lifetime? What will last only a few short years, or months, or days? Based on eternal value, what things are most important in your life? Where – and with whom – should you invest your most time and energy?
    By reorganizing your life around eternal priorities, you will find yourself growing in contentment, as you live according to God’s design and purpose.

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