For at least the past 20 years, I have struggled every single day with a thorn in my flesh that I desperately wish I could pluck out. I'm bringing it up here today not to glorify the struggle or to give Satan satisfaction in the battles he has won, but simply to encourage those of you who are facing similar lifelong battles. I want you to know that you are not alone. Your deepest insecurities have likely become a deeply ingrained part of yourself, but I want - need - to remind you that they are not your identity. It can be shameful as a follower of Christ to war so with the flesh, so today I'm issuing a call to other women to fight the battle, verbalize the struggle, and give Christ the credit rather than Satan the shame.
My thorn? I have not once in the past 20 years ever been truly satisfied with the way I look. There have been times that were better than others, times when I did Insanity like a madwoman and had a flat stomach and looked pretty good, but I still wasn't content. There's always something I wish I could change. It's so hard to admit this superficial, unspiritual, un-Christlike struggle that plagues me, but I'm doing it anyway. I could list a thousand reasons why I dislike my body, but the details don't matter. If you're a female, chances are high that you have your own list anyway and can relate exactly.
Since I met my husband, he has told me (or shown me) at least once a day (so approximately 900 times) that he loves the way I look, is attracted to me, and doesn't want me to change a thing. I'll see from the corner of my eye him looking at me, and when I ask what he's doing, he says, "Just checking you out." He touches me when he walks past in the hall, pinches my rear end when I'm cooking in the kitchen, brushes the hair back from my cheek and kisses my forehead. I KNOW that he loves me - and my body. If the man who loves me also loves the way I look, why can I not be secure? Why do I agonize so much about every hair being in place, every muscle being toned, every outfit being perfectly coordinated? I wish I knew, and I wish I could turn off the switch that makes it all matter so much.
There are those who will blame me and say it's because I don't read the Bible enough, don't take Jesus my strongholds to destroy, don't pray and fast... The fault is my own. Perhaps they are right. I would argue, however, that they aren't. You see, even in the times I am closest to the heart of Christ, when the air I breathe is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit dwells richly within me, even in those times - I have struggled. Being close to Christ does not eradicate our struggles, and those who say it does are sadly deceived. Nowhere in God's Word to us does it say, "Come to me and I will solve all of your problems." Rather, it says things like, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). It says, "Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear" (Matt. 6:25). This may seem obvious, but I think He tells us not to worry about these things because He knows that in our flesh we will.
Your thorn may look different than mine. You may wrestle with debilitating fear or grapple with memories of your sinful past.You may lie awake at night worrying about money, praying for a spouse, or agonizing over leaving a job. I don't know what your lifelong struggle is, but I can almost guarantee that you have one. We all have weaknesses - some immense, ongoing, and brutally incapacitating. We are not always doomed to face them for a lifetime, but sometimes we are. I cannot begin to explain why, sometimes, God does not deliver us from these struggles. The only answer I have is that the struggle is necessary for us to see Him most clearly. He tells us that His power is "made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). If we were strong, we would not see His power. When we are weak, we do.
Please don't misunderstand. I am not advocating that you remain helpless and resign yourself to a lifetime of feeling inferior and 'less than.' I am also not saying that you should look to your thorn as your gateway to God. That is not the point. Fight with everything in you to defeat Satan at his mind games and to gain control of the thoughts you think. Beg your Savior to deliver you from what hurts. But, if He doesn't, don't see it as an excuse to live without power. Don't assume that you cannot be used if you struggle daily. Don't believe that God loves you less because you have to fight more. See it all as God's method of increasing your reliance on Him.
Friends, this life is hard, and I'm convinced that it's harder for those of us trying to live for and through Jesus. It's harder because the world that is our home really isn't. The details that consume our days aren't the reality of our forever. The hardships that we wrestle with often take our focus from our God-given purpose.
Whatever the struggle, no matter the intensity, allow it to turn you to Christ. Demand that it show you His heart. Beg Him to show Himself in it. He is faithful, and your weakness will showcase His strength - and His love.
I am linking up today at http://christianmommyblogger.com/fellowship-fridays-7-2/