So, you know me, I’m a teacher at heart and I analyze everything looking for the lesson.
After my accident, all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap. Randall said that was not an option so I went downstairs and sat on the couch with a good book. But the information we read online said not to read or watch TV or do anything that would make my brain have to “work” for a while after a concussion.
So what’s left? Staring off into space?
If I’m not chasing after my kids or reading a book, I’m writing blog posts in my head. I can’t help it! I immediately started thinking about all the things I could write about because of my stupid accident.
I could write about pain and healing, I could write about patience and God’s timing, I could write about how a one second decision could affect your world for two weeks. I could talk about regret.
I started to research what the Bible says about pain and patience. Those verses were all fine and dandy, but what kept drawing my attention was Paul’s response to the “thorn in his flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12. Paul isn’t specific about what that “thorn” is. It could have been a physical ailment, or an emotional or spiritual pain that tormented him day in and day out. Some people suggest that it was the fact that he had to live with the memory of the Christians he had killed before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Some people say it could have been his failing eye sight or another health issue.
Either way, I have never understood what these verses mean:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
…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.
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. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I’ve tried to apply these verses to my life. Not my silly little accident, but I have an ever constant struggle with a character flaw I’ve been given. I am constantly battling a food addiction and a problem with laziness. I think about these issues every minute of every day.
They are typical issues and I’m sure that many of you can relate to me and that brings me comfort but I am not boasting in my weaknesses. It’s taken a lifetime to finally admit to them openly.
These are my weaknesses: food and couches. Maybe we can argue that half of America wrestles with the same problems, but for me, it’s a war. And I’m losing more battles than I’m winning.
If I apply God’s answer to Paul in verse 8 to my weakness, it doesn’t make sense. “My power works best in weakness.” My weakness seems to be way stronger than the power of God in me.
What does that say about me? That I don’t have enough faith? I don’t think so.
Does God give us weakness so that we’ll depend on him? If we were all perfectly strong, we wouldn’t need his power…
But that’s not what it says. Paul says his “thorn” is a messenger from Satan. Not God. So God is not giving us these issues so that we will need his strength.
That’s good to know.
I still struggle with this. I have asked God, more times than I can count, to take away my weaknesses. To just fix me. Make me better. To stop the cravings. To motivate me to move.
And then I’d usually just wait to see what happened. I’d go about my day expecting Him to supernaturally change me. That’s what I asked for. And he’s big enough to change me, right?
After coming back to these verses once more, God revealed something to me.
I keep expecting God to heal me in his power. But that’s not what he’s offering. God never healed Paul. He’ll probably never take away my struggles either. His offer is not for healing, but for power.
And there have been days and even seasons when I have been able to overcome my weaknesses. I have had friends who motivated me to make life change. I have had times when I was down and depressed about never being able to overcome these issues when Randall reminded me that I was taking small steps in the right direction and making improvements.
I guess what I’m learning today from 2 Corinthians 12 is that God is offering his grace. To forgive us when we fail. And his power, to help us in our struggles. He’s not offering healing. He’s not offering a supernatural fix, but he has given us himself.
God lives inside of me, his Holy Spirit resides in me. I know for a fact that I don’t have the power to stay away from foods that are bad for me. But I also know that I have a piece of God inside of me that I rarely tap into. If I’m honest, it’s the times when I am depending on his strength that I’m headed in the right direction.
From now on, I’ll take my progress as a sign of my dependence on God. On my bad days, I’ll be reminded that God’s open hand is outstretched, offering to pull me in the right direction. I’ll be reminded that I’m not using the awesome tool I’ve been given.
On my good days, I’ll give thanks.
I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
God, I get it now. I will never be rid of my struggles. But I can come to you for strength in everyday battles. And your strength will be enough to help me through the day. Please continue to remind me of your Spirit inside of me. Continue to tap on my shoulder and remind me to depend on your power not my own will power. Shoot… We all know it’s useless. I thank you for my struggles. I don’t like them, but I’m thankful that I know what they are and can work toward overcoming them day by day. I thank you for your help. I thank you for loving me despite them. For calling me a masterpiece and creating me “wonderfully made.” When I think of how you love me, I can’t help but gleam in all my imperfection.