…even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT)
Whenever I read this familiar passage from 2 Corinthians, written by the Apostle Paul, the same questions that have perplexed Christian believers and scholars for centuries are raised. What was this thorn? A physical affliction? A psychiatric disturbance?
As I have shared in a previous blog, my recent COVID infection left me without my senses of taste and smell. From the most current data, at least 95% of COVID patients who have experienced this, usually recover the full capacity of these senses, usually within a few weeks to months. However, an unfortunate 5% may never recover, in spite of interventional medical therapy such as steroids.
I realized that if my condition continued, many of my eating and drinking habits would change. Instead of adding sugar and cream to coffee, I could drink it black. I sensed the bitterness but nothing else. When I ate my spinach salad, I did not have to add a dressing or other condiments and simply eat it plain and unadorned. In fact, I did not have to grill a steak or fish or smoke a piece of meat, since I would not discern any difference in the entrees. It would be better and cheaper simply to eat a generic protein bar.
While one immediate benefit is a reduction in grocery and eating expenses, it is also a sober reminder that what once was a creative outlet for me as well as an opportunity to bond with friends and family, would no longer be the same.
As I reflected on this dramatic change in my life, I realized that if God were to grab my attention with a thorn in my flesh, He could not have picked a more impactful and sharper one than this. As many regular readers of my blogs know, next to God and my family, my passions in life are music and food. When I shared my plight with a colleague, he said, “Oh no! It’s the worst punishment for a foodie like yourself!”
Indeed. I would never presume that my thorn in the flesh was as debilitating as the Apostle Paul’s. However, God does place a thorn or thorns in our flesh to shake us out of our complacency and recommit our faith and lives to serving Him. Whatever the outcome, God is in control and only He is worthy of our praise, not our complaints.
Let the power of Christ work through me.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.