This morning a friend on Facebook commented about her daughter asking why her mother has gray hairs. As a mother I can appreciate the humor of a child asking such an innocent question, as well as how off guard my friend must have been at first.
I didn’t leave a reply, but I thought about what my answer would be if my son were to ask me that question. I would try to take something that is normally a negative and find a way to view it as a positive, that much I know. The only thing I could think of is the “…thorn in my flesh” the apostle Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians chapter 12:
“…So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” verse 7 NLT
Now, a couple strands of gray hair that refuse to stay hidden or even a patch of gray hair that is impossible to hide without regular trips to the beauty salon would be easy enough for me to view as a “thorn”. But what about the more serious, more difficult things in my life?
I think most of the people who know me would probably guess my being a military wife would be my “thorn”. And indeed, the Navy life can be a “thorn” which causes us pain, anger, frustration, and many other emotions. Having your spouse leave for days, weeks, or even months at a time while you stay at home with your child who can’t completely understand what’s happening does make you rely on Christ more attentively.
However, I would have to say that my biggest “thorn” is my living with fibromyalgia. From what I have read from other sufferers, I have a pretty mild case. It has not caused me to stop functioning for days at a time, it has not caused me to tell my son he can’t touch me because it will hurt, I have not required medication, but I do have my bad days. I have noticed that it is particularly bad when we have warm, humid days that are immediately followed by rainy thunderstorms and temperatures that drop 20 degrees overnight. Days like that, with 92F and sun one day turning to 73F and constant rain the next day, my energy level is beyond low.
It takes everything I have to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son’s lunch…..and usually leads to me falling asleep on the couch while he watches a movie during lunch. I cannot open a jar for anything because I cannot grip, simply curling my fingers would hurt my hands. I occasionally start twitching in various places on my body at random times, and my hands can have an ache all the way to my shoulders. It is as if there are invisible opera gloves that go from my shoulders to my fingertips that weigh at least 5 pounds and it takes a noticeable effort just to move my arms to pull my hair back. Simple things become physically draining.
BUT, Praise my Jesus for the next two verses in that chapter…
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” verse 8-9 NLT
Every day I am learning how true this is. Yes, not having a set “schedule” to make plans is annoying. Yes, having a chronic pain illness is annoying. And yes, there are days my husband is my “thorn” (although I love him dearly). But each of these things are physical reminders of how much I truly have to rely solely on Christ for my strength. My physical strength, my emotional strength, my spiritual strength, all of these are dependent on my conscious and intentional spending of time in His word to deepen our relationship.
So, my reader, I have two questions for you. The first, “What is your thorn?” and the second, “How are you viewing it?”