My Thorn In The Flesh
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. In the last two years I have come to learn a lot about infertility. My struggle is with secondary infertility - that is infertility that occurs after giving birth to at least one child previously. I have now been infertile for two years. I know some women who have struggled with infertility much much longer.
Infertility, like any other disease or medical problem, is one of those things that you never think will happen to you. When it does, you start to ask a lot of questions. Why is this happening to me? Is this my fault? What can I do about this? How am I supposed to get through this?
I have read many times about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Although we don’t know exactly what his infirmity was, we know it was very troubling to him and that he begged God to remove it.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
- 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
I am not even sure where to begin when I read these verses. There is so much to glean here! Although I don’t know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, I do know what mine is - secondary infertility. To call it a thorn is a very good description - it is painful and almost impossible to ignore.
One thing I have really treasured about these verses is the truth about this thorn. It is a messenger of Satan. We are often so quick to blame God for the bad things that happen in our lives. “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” How can we so easily forget that we are living in a wicked and sinful world in which Satan is lurking about seeking whom he may devour? (1 Peter 5:8) This thorn was given to Paul by the devil himself. And I think Satan is the one who has designed my own thorn. He knows right where to attack and will do anything to trick Christ’s followers into believing that perhaps God really doesn’t have their best interest in mind. Satan knew that my longing to bear children could very likely be my weakness. He wanted to draw me out, convince me to accuse God and turn from Him. But I will not let him win. Because I know that he is the true enemy.
Paul also mentions that the thorn in his flesh is to keep him humble. Goodness knows I need to improve in this area! I LOVE being a mommy. I am good at it. I work very hard at it. I am a very purposeful momma. But I have to remember that I am not perfect, not even close. And sometimes I need a reminder that in many aspects of parenting, personal choices have to be made. Not everyone will parent their children the same way. And it’s not my place to judge other parents. It is my job to follow the Bible’s instructions when raising my daughter, and to follow my husband’s leading. My infertility has humbled me in many ways. And I can only believe that it has made me a better and stronger person than I could have been otherwise.
Finally, I see that although Paul begged the Lord to take away his infirmity, God instead wanted to show Himself strong. He wanted Paul to avail himself of His grace. Rather than removing this thorn in Paul’s flesh, God had a better blessing in mind. He wanted Paul to be a godly example through his difficulty. See, God knew that Paul could glorify Him more with this thorn in the flesh than he ever could have without it. That has been my prayer for two years now. I want so much for God to use me and my trial. I want God to show Himself strong in my own weakness. When people learn of my infertility, I hope that it can somehow point to Him! By trusting God’s plan for my life, even when it brings me pain, I allow God’s grace to be sufficient for me. I allow His strength to be made perfect in my weakness. And I am allowing His power to rest on me.
I hope today, that whatever your thorn may be, that you will choose to use it to honor the Lord, rather than buying into the devil’s lies. I promise you that trusting God with your thorn will lead to better blessings than you could ever know without it! And even if you can’t understand that, you can know that in your weakness, God can be glorified if you simply trust Him and follow His leading for your life.