Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Confused (08/16/07)
TITLE: The Thorn
By Dawn Thomason
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(II Cor. 12:1-10)
Three (or was it 3,000) times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away. The thorn, sharper than nails, remained embedded in my flesh. A 20-year battle with depression, coupled with the recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder, overwhelmed me to the point of despair. Certainly the same God who had given sight to the blind, caused the lame to dance, and raised the dead to life, was able to work just one more miracle - MINE.
“Lord, please, please, PLEASE take away this thorn!” Paul’s pleas for relief erupted from the depths of his soul. His voice, the despair so familiar, gripped my heart. I sensed within him a kindred spirit. Someone truly understood my anguish. I pondered whether I should share our commonality or grant Paul privacy. After all, such personal pain might resent an uninvited guest. Summoning an inner courage, I resolved to introduce myself. “My name is Dawn”, I expelled in a mousy squeak. “I, too, have a thorn in the flesh.”
Tears welled in his eyes, a reflecting pool of the compassion in his heart. I pondered if perhaps he harbored the same confusion regarding pain and unanswered prayer.
“Have you asked the Lord to remove it?” Paul inquired tenderly. “Absolutely!” Dawn’s unequivocal reply was wrought with faith. However, her bowed head belied her confidence. She attempted, in vain, to veil her disappointment in God’s delayed response.
Moments passed as they walked together in reflective silence. God’s presence was manifest through the rustling of the leaves. Indeed, they were not alone.
Paul, after prayerfully considering his next words, posed a question. “May I share something with you?” Dawn, recognizing Paul as a man of God, welcomed his insights. “Yes, please, continue”, she replied. “I once had questions, very similar to yours.” Paul spoke with such tenderness, not a hint of condemnation in his voice. “I longed for the Lord to hear my cries and heed my request. Certainly such pain could only be from Satan, a vile tactic of discouragement and despair.” Dawn nodded in agreement, “Yes! Yes! You read my mind.” Paul smiled and continued his story.
“Once upon a time (whether in body or out, I do not recall), I received an answer to my questions.” Paul continued. “It was not the answer I expected, or even wanted, but it was an answer of hope.” Dawn, desperate for hope of her own, listened intently.
“My grace is sufficient for you, Paul.” The voice, strong with authority, yet gentle with compassion, called me by name. Jesus called ME by name. “I know you feel weary and weak, but My power is perfected through your weakness. Therefore, be thankful, press on, and glorify Me.” Then He was gone.
The alarm blared. Dawn sprung from her bed, disoriented, peering through the curtains to determine the time of day. Whether it was a dream or reality, she was not sure. Thorn intact, she departed for work, determined to glorify God the rest of her days.
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