I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing Your praise; I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things Your name and Your word. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands. Psalms 138:1-2 & 8 (ESV)
A common Thanksgiving activity of listing what we are grateful for most likely consists of pleasant items or relationships dearest to us. May I suggest a different approach this year? As 2020 has been filled with unexpected, unpleasant and difficult challenges therefore, this reflection will fit right in.
The apostle Paul talks in 2nd Corinthians 12:7-10 about his thorn, it was chronic and debilitating and the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly the nature of the thorn. We know it kept him from his work and he prayed for its removal but it lingered.
What is the thorn in your life and can you find gratitude for the times in which it pricks you and festers?
That is what happens if a thorn lodged under your skin goes untreated, it festers. Some people’s thorns are physical, life in a wheelchair, cancer, multiple sclerosis and some are emotional — mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness.
For me, mental health challenges within our family puts me in touch with Paul and inspires me to live and believe the words of Jesus.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8(a)
As I sit here today I say for certain I am grateful for the suffering I have personally endured through this journey of mental health diagnosis within our family. There is a resounding reason for my gratitude…please don’t miss this! My faith, assurance of God’s presence and intimacy with the Lord is remarkable because of our family’s suffering! I have allowed the creator of the universe to care for me in a way not possible outside of deep suffering. The price is worth it as I have an intimacy with God that is honestly beyond words to explain. I have experienced the goodness, mercy and love of the Father in some dark days and I am grateful for that. I am now at a place in life where I can “rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3a ESV) because the result is courageous faith and knowing God better. His glory and power has been revealed in ways impossible without the thorn. This is only a result of me running into the Lord of Heaven’s Armies when the thorn begins to fester under my skin.
What is your thorn and where would you be without it? Can you search your heart and find reason to be thankful for this thorn of yours?