Would You Like Your Pain Gift-Wrapped?

My car radio is usually on 1 of 2 stations: 98.3 HIS Radio or 106.9 The Light. I was listening to 98.3 on my way home from work the other day. I particularly like the afternoon show with Erica, called, “The Living Room.” She shared a recorded bit from MercyMe’s lead singer, Bart, talking about his son’s Type 1 Diabetes that he was diagnosed with at the age of 2. He references what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 about the thorn in his flesh… and his son’s situation really being an inspiration for MercyMe’s song, “Even If.” (I’ve included the YouTube link for the song at the end of the post.) Ever since I heard that bit, I’ve been really considering that passage.

In 2nd Corinthians 12, Paul writes:

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

 

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

‘A thorn in my flesh’ is probably the most well known translation of The Message’s ‘handicap.’ When I think of a thorn, I think of pain… a small pain, but pain nonetheless.

Paul says his thorn, this source of pain, is a gift. Wait. Whaaaaat? A GIFT? Are you kidding me?

That’s the response I’ve had for awhile now. I couldn’t believe that a thorn could be considered a gift. It seemed absurd, absolutely nuts, & downright crazy. I suppose apart of my response was birthed from a place of insecurity & spiritual immaturity. This mindset obviously made me look bad, because I was NOT in a place where I thought that way about the brokenness of my family. I also recognize that I’ve had to feel & process A LOT over the past 5 years… so it’s not just the insecurity & spiritual immaturity.

Since hearing that bit on HIS Radio, I’ve looked at the brokenness of my family through the lens of Paul’s gift mindset. I’ve asked myself what gifts I wouldn’t otherwise have if it weren’t for this reality of my life. There are many, but there is one big kahuna gift that I felt compelled to share with you all.

I asked Jesus into my heart as a 6-year-old… so pretty much all of life that I am capable of remembering has been spent as a believer. Over all, my prayer & Bible reading habits have been mediocre at best. I’ve heard it said that God uses to pain to get our attention. That certainly worked with me. It took me 3 years after the start of my pain-processing to get back into church. God has worked in unimaginable ways in my life since I began reciprocating the desire to be in relationship with Him & actually pursuing that. I’m reading the Word & praying daily, which has been a game-changer.

I, like Paul, have prayed for the removal of my thorn, for the healing of these broken relationships. I don’t believe I was wrong for praying that. After all, God DOES call us to leave peaceably with all, as much as it depends on us. I had done what I could do to live peaceable with my parents, but they didn’t respond to my efforts. I’ve prayed for restoration. God HAS restored… me & my heart back to Him. I’ve needed that more than I’ll ever need my parents.

Now, I can say that my thorn is a gift.

Every day my dad rejects me is another opportunity to bask in the Word & have it speak truth over how accepted by THE Father I truly am. A gift.

Every day my mom chooses the addiction lifestyle over having a relationship with me is another opportunity to have the ultimate Healer breathe peace into my heart. A gift.

Every minute of my life is spent in those realities, so every minute of my life, I am gifted with a greater need for Him, a greater dependence on Him, a greater understanding of Him. This is a gift, my friends. This is everything.

 

***“Even If” by MercyMe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6fA35Ved-Y

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