“So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
One of the happiest moments of my life was the moment of my baptism. When I emerged from the water I felt a sense of perfect peace, and knew that God was pleased. It was a wonderful experience, but the start of an incredibly difficult journey. At that time, I could not have anticipated what would happen next.
I was baptised just a few months after my 16th birthday, and later that year started to feel a nagging pain in my shoulder. Then in my knees. Then in my hips. My joint pain gradually became constant and debilitating, and it began to prevent me from doing the things ordinary young people can do. I was forced to give up jogging, and even walking became painful. On top of this, I felt tired all the time, so tired that I would fall asleep in school, right in front of my teachers. I just couldn’t stop myself.
I felt so hurt and confused. Why would God do this to me? I had just given my life to Him!
When I was finally diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, my feelings were confusion and anger. I would go between desperately pleading for healing, like Paul in 2 Corinthians, and feeling furious at God for not hearing my prayer.
It took a long time for my relationship with God to heal, but returning to the Scripture helped a lot.
I was able to read relatable stories about people like David, and Naomi. At various times in their lives, they faced hardships and thought that God wasn’t listening to them. But then something would change which would show them that God was listening the whole time, loved them, and blessed them in their struggle. This was very reassuring at a time when I felt abandoned in my pain.
It was while looking for more stories like this that I came across 2 Corinthians 12, and it changed my entire perspective on my illness. Paul explained that he had a “thorn in his side,” which has been placed there for a reason; to stop him from becoming prideful, and to make him rely more on God.
I realised that instead of getting angry with God, I could accept that He had made me the way I was for a reason. He made me physically weak so that I would lean on Him for my strength.
Now, I have a brand new mindset. I have achieved things which to outsiders look impossible for someone with my health problems, because I have relied on God.
I stopped looking at my illness as an enemy that I had to fight every day, and began to see it like a blessing in disguise.
God’s power has been magnified in my weakness, and my relationship with Him is closer than ever.
I still experience joint pain and fatigue every day, but I find peace in knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for me.
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