I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6 The Passion Translation
Lately I have been pondering why anxiety has been a part of my journey. Certainly, I would be better off: more centered, more joyful, more courageous, more who God created me to be without it. Or would I? Maybe my experience with anxiety has made me exactly who God has called me to be. He has (like he promised) used all of my life experiences (even the ones I interpret as bad) for my ultimate good. Not good in the way I would define it, but good in that my weakness draws me close to him- the Storyteller.
…a thorn in my flesh was given to me, the Adversary’s messenger sent to harass me, keeping me from becoming arrogant. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weakness, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:7 The Passion Translation
I have always been so curious about the mentioning of Paul’s “thorn in his flesh”. WHAT THE HECK WAS IT? I’ve heard speculation that it was a lisp or a physical deformity that was embarrassing to him. I think it was brilliant of Paul to not go into specifics. He essentially gifted us a fill-in-the-blank exercise in his letter, because the point of including this detail is that it doesn’t matter what the thorn was! Maybe it was chronic hiccups, or halitosis (you can’t be preaching with bad breath!) or maybe it was debilitating anxiety with panic attacks.
Yes, He could have left this chapter of my life out. Lord knows I have prayed A LOT more than three times (like Paul did) for this “thorn in my flesh” to be removed from my life. But then I would have missed the interactions with friends, family and acquaintances who are in the same struggle, and need to be assured that they are not alone in this world with their anxiety.
What is your thorn? Fill in the blank that Paul gave us. Maybe your thorn is just a finishing touch, a glorious detail of your unique life that God is using to mature you and to offer others comfort through you. The Storyteller is writing your story and no detail in the plot is wasted. In fact, whatever your thorn is, it has great and purposeful power to bring about the full expression of the Storyteller’s grand story that involves you becoming ALL that you were meant to be.
Your “thorn” is beautiful detail that finds meaning when your story intersects in the world of someone else who shares your scars.
I never thought I would be grateful for anxiety. But every time someone reaches out to me about anxiety, depression, mental health or my journey off of medication, I am grateful for the opportunity to show them my matching scar, and I am hopeful that my story will somehow help theirs.
The Storyteller is working all of the details out in the end, so I can stop praying that the chapters change and start trusting that he is bringing me to my happily ever after.