It was only a few years ago that it was allowed to suddenly descend — uninvited. Anxiety. It has changed pretty much every part of who I am. I don’t mean the kind of anxiety that can be prayed or reasoned away with a few moments in the Word. Of course, time in the Word of God and prayer is where I go in the midst of this daily reality, but this is a different kind of anxiety.
If you haven’t experienced it you don’t really GET it. I don’t expect you to. I don’t ask you to. I don’t even understand it. It makes no sense at all! It just showed up and stayed.
It’s impossible to explain, and some may walk away shaking their head because they don’t understand it. All I know is that God has used it to slow me down and limit me in ways He may not choose to limit others. It’s just the way He has chosen to work in my life. It’s the thorn He has allowed in.
“…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9:
My victories look different than the victories of others. My victories are rarely seen because I don’t show up in the ways that most have defined “showing up”. My victories are quiet whispers. Secrets between my Heavenly Father and I.
- They are my thought-prayers of gratefulness when He has enabled me to persevere when everything with in me wants to sit on the couch and withdraw.
- It is the sense of joy that fills me at the end of one of those days that he has decided to invite me to join him in the life of another, and he has arranged a one-on-one encounter with a precious person. (and nobody knows about it but God and me.)
- They are found in the early morning moments when God strengthens me enough to ignore the knot in my stomach, and reminds me to pray for those He has put on my list of people He wants me to pray for.
- It’s the down deep knowing and accepting the fact that God has allowed this thorn, that it is a part of His plan even though it is not what I ever imagined my life would look like when I reached this season.
- It’s knowing that some may think I should be doing more – that I should show up in different ways – and that it is enough for me that God knows and God sees.
“God has used this thorn of anxiety to teach me some things. He’s taught me that I’m a weak, frail, fragile, easily broken creature. He’s taught me that I can’t do anything apart from Him. He’s taught me that if I have any success….it’s because his grace is at work in me. I need to learn and embrace these truths. These are hard, yet sweet truths. The anxiety I am experiencing is a severe mercy.” Stephen Altrogge
No, this is not what I imagined life would look like when I reached this season of life. When we are young we often look ahead and conclude that we will reach a level of maturity and strength when we enter later seasons of life. The reality is, what is actually experienced is the opposite. Life, time, and God (if we allow him to) have a tendency to reveal how very weak we are and how very much we need His strength each day. We learn that He allows thorns to keep us from becoming conceited, that His grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) Our merciful Savior never gives a thorn without this added grace – He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.
I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace:
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.