It’s no mystery that discouragement is all around us. I get discouraged quite easily by quite a lot of things. My circumstances, people around me, and of course my disease. My thorn has been the number one source of discouragement in my life.
And that is okay.
If it wasn’t, then something would be terribly wrong with my heart. A thorn so damaging and sharp SHOULD cause discouragement for it is painful and I am reminded of it’s destructive nature every day.
I used to think that lamenting my thorn was unhealthy. I was told don’t lament to myself or to God because I was being a victim. Our western culture tells us: “Don’t let them see you sweat.” Paul lamented his thorn and God allowed it. He wrestled with God often and just like Jacob, that was a sign of desperation, a sign of seeking truth. I am having to re-learn how to lament to God in the right way. Instead of just blaming God for my lust addiction and instead of just asking “why me?” I lament to Him in order to come to terms with it. If I never lament the thorn then I may very well live in denial that it is there.
“A lack of composure when you are dying inside is a sign of spiritual maturity.” – Scott Sauls
But at some point I must move on from the lamenting stage for lingering too long will cause resentment which has been referred to as “the number one offender for addicts.” How do I move past complaining to God about my thorn?
This is not fun to do for me. Turning everything over to God is scary and does not come naturally for me. Every day that passes in recovery is a day that I understand surrender a little more clearly. Surrender means being willing to accept God’s answer – even if its a “no.” Its easy to follow God when He says yes to our prayers. But what if He says no?
I am learning that hubris blocks surrender. The days that I don’t surrender to God’s will are the days that I think I have everything figured out. Those are the days I struggle the most with my disease. I am forced to rely on my own will power – white knuckling it through the day. This does not go well for me!
During the glory days of the Roman Empire, high ranking statesmen would bring a servant with them everywhere they traveled. Before each destination that these well-respected and powerful men would stop, the servant would lean over and whisper to them:
“Remember you too are mortal.”
That is what my thorn does for me. He humbles me so that I don’t drive myself off a cliff because of my hubris. He brings me down to earth when I need it. My thorn is a beautiful picture of how I am not in control of my life and I am fully reliant on God to bring about good in me and through me. Maybe, just maybe, God’s plan is to not remove the thorn but to allow it for His greater good.
The end destination must be serenity. Serenity can be found even if I live my whole life with this thorn called addiction. I am not bad getting good. I am sick getting well. If I take my medicine that God has provided then I can live in serenity and contentment.
This concept has transformed my life from shame and fear to love and surrender. Because of that I live a life of boasting. I boast not in myself but in the power of God. I boast that He has brought me to this place and He is using me to accomplish His purposes.
“I’m not going to take it away, I’m going to redeem it.” – God