I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard a teaching on Paul’s famous words describing a thorn in the flesh. Here’s the reference:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Two weeks ago, our Bible study teacher shared her perspective of these verses and made me realize the advantage of having a thorn in my flesh. (doesn’t sound possible, does it?)
I’ve always had a specific relationship missing in my life. It has caused me angst and sadness and longing, but God has yet to answer my prayer about it. It has weaved much discouragement into my life, and for several dark periods of time, I felt I was unworthy of being loved.
Instead of answering my prayer with my desire, God often He has filled the void in my life by sending amazing people to fill this role. My cup runneth over with all of the love others have showered on me over the years.
So, how is this thorn to my advantage, you ask?
Sometimes when I’m working on plans for the Deaf kids in Haiti, I stop and ask God, “What do I know about being Deaf and living in an orphanage in a 3rd-world country? Am I really the best person to be making plans?”
Two weeks ago, during the teaching on Paul’s thorn, it became clear to me.
Each of these kids just wants to be loved. I see it when I’m in Haiti and Emma clings to me or Jeffson wants me to sit in the library with him and read book after book. (I love these moments, by the way.)
These kids are missing vital relationships in their lives. Perhaps God is sending me to fill that void – just as He sent so many people to me over the years. My thorn allows me to connect to these kids because I understand longing for a coveted relationship. It explains why I pray for them every day, why I bring their favorite snack or game, and why I put so much energy into planning their future. Without my thorn, I may not be as compassionate. Without my thorn, I might forget to tell them they ARE worthy of being loved.
So, do I wish the thorn had been removed years ago? Somedays, I’d probably still answer yes. However, I can see now, God’s grace is sufficient. It isn’t easy; it’s sufficient.
If I can prove to these children that they are worthy of love, then the journey with my thorn was worth it.