I am reminded of a story told by Corrie ten Boom in her book “The Hiding Place.” She and her sister Betsie were prisoners in a Nazi prison in which conditions were almost unbearable. They were put in some of the worst barracks in the compound, barracks 28, where their beds were infested with fleas. They didn’t know how they could survive in such conditions. But Corrie’s sister, Betsie, quoted the scripture which says to “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). So she and her sister gave thanks for everything. They thanked God for the fact that they were together, that they had a Bible, that there were crowds of prisoners so more people would be able to hear God’s Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas. Corrie thought thanking God for the fleas was too much, but Betsie convinced her to give thanks in all circumstances, not just in pleasant circumstances. So Corrie reluctantly gave in and thanked God for the fleas also. It turns out the fleas were actually a blessing. The supervisors, who harassed and abused the other prisoners, did not come into Barrack 28 because of the fleas! And for that reason Corrie and Betsie were able to hold Bible studies in those barracks, and many women were ministered to. God had protected them through those fleas. Sometimes seemingly horrible circumstances are working for our own good and those around us.
God did not give us a thorn in the flesh so we would be defeated. He gave it to us so that His strength would be evident in our own weakness. But you may be thinking that you could do SO much more for God if you had a healthy body, and you would be a much more productive Christian if you just had your whole health again. Maybe the truth is that you would be relying on yourself instead of God. Maybe He had to take away all of your confidence in yourself and have you refocus on where your confidence should really come from (“which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” Phillippians 3:3).
If you are despairing of your life because of your thorn in the flesh, you need to make a choice. Choose life, choose hope, choose living your life on behalf of Christ and for the benefit of others in this world who are suffering. There is no better reason for living! Let God turn your weakness into a strength.