Last year I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that knocked me off of my feet a bit. It hit me square in the areas in which I’ve often found security and comfort. My intellect has been crippled by persistent and real brain fog. My optimism has been dampened by symptoms that have mirrored depression. My weight and appearance have shifted and fluctuated despite my best efforts to control them. My ability to press on has faded, as my body hasn’t been able to summon the energy to keep going through exhaustion anymore.
The process of treating it has been one of the most frustrating seasons of my life – a sort of two steps forward, one step back cycle of hoping the next medication or the next food elimination diet might miraculously provide a cure.
I am so thankful for the ways God has healed my body thus far. My struggle over the last year has paled in comparison to what many of you have walked through. It could be far worse, as they say.
That said, for me, this has been difficult. This has seemed – at times – like an assault on some of the things I’ve held dear and relied upon.
In Judges 7, Gideon had tens of thousands of men ready to go to war against the Midianites. God whittled this number down to 300. He didn’t want the Israelites to question whom the honor and glory should go to in victory. He didn’t want them to be tempted to pat themselves on the back and rely on themselves in the future, so yet again, He worked in an unconventional way to show His power in their weakness.
This brings me back to my small “thorn in the flesh.”
I have been more aware of my daily need for God’s grace and power over the last year than in the previous two and a half decades of my life. As I have been made less, I have truly seen His more. He has strengthened me and helped me. He has upheld me with His hand. He has restored my soul. In my weakness, He has been faithfully strong.
God does not delight in our suffering – far from it, in fact. God did not cut Gideon’s fighting men down to 300 for the purpose of seeing them suffer. But He lovingly uses our weaknesses to protect us from pride and self-worship. He lovingly uses our “thorns” to focus on our hearts and minds on Jesus and His all-encompassing sufficiency.
His ways are not our ways. This isn’t a cliché or a cop out. This is the truth, which when understood and believed, is one of the most radically freeing, life-giving statements in all of eternity.
Is there an area in your life that God has whittled down? Are there areas of weakness that don’t make sense? Thorns, which are frustrating and you’ve prayed would be taken away, to no avail?
Be encouraged by God’s defeat of the Midianites with a mere 300 men! Be encouraged by God’s defeat of sin and the grace with one man – His Son! Be encouraged that this man – Jesus – is made strong in our weakness. His ways are far better and far higher than our ways. Be encouraged by this extraordinary truth.