I’ve been airing a bunch of dirty laundry lately on the internet. Infertility. Divorce. Infidelity. A google search of my name pulls up links that make my life look like one long train wreck. While they are not my favorite stories, I don’t mind telling them in hopes that they will encourage and strengthen someone in the thick of their own mess.
I am comfortable sharing them mainly because they are resolved. They are finished and polished and can be woven into a moving story of victory which cause people to cry in the middle and smile in the end.
In all this sharing of big trials overcome, I’ve noticed something about myself. Maybe this is true of you too? I find it easier to trust God with the catastrophic events than the everyday irritations. The thorns. This is partially because the large-scale disasters are infrequent and also because they are clearly out of my control. I can’t do anything about infertility. I have no choice but to trust. Being nice to my family when I’m hungry though? That’s another story. That is something I can power through and I should be able to fix if I try hard enough.
Here’s a sampling of some thoughts that like to run around my head:
He can surely bring us safely through marriage trials but can He help me be less negative? Probably not. I’m so thankful God brought us two kids perfect for our family after all those years of infertility. Too bad He can’t give me a breakthrough with my anger issues though.
I realized recently why He hasn’t answered me. It was a huge epiphany over an embarrassingly basic concept. I’ve been begging for Him to fix me so I could go on my merry way a lighter, happier me. I want Him to fix it once and for all and frankly I have been more than a little irritated that He won’t since I know He can.
It never occurred to me that maybe He wanted me to realize I need to depend on Him on a minute by minute basis. My prayer has been for change precisely so I don’t HAVE to depend on Him.
The thing about God: He wins. My white flag is raised. I’m also going to cry “uncle” just for good measure.
Turns out, I’m not the first person to realize this! In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul realized that the thorn kept him dependent on God and that it was actually a (very uncomfortable and sometimes infuriating) blessing. According to Paul, the thorn does several things for us:
• Keeps us humble (v.7)
• Helps us understand grace (v.9)
• Brings us to the true source of strength (v.10)
And so, like Paul, I am going to give boasting in my weakness a try. I am going to quit praying God would remove my irritating tendencies and start depending on Him to get me through tough moments instead. I bet it will work. Don’t you?
Is there a thorn in your side you could choose to embrace rather than scorn today?