Grace and peace to you all! We get another day, rejoice in it! That verse is full of hope and joy, and we can rejoice because there really is a God in Heaven who loves us all!
Do you know why I can still rejoice today standing 6’1″ tall and only weighing 137 pounds from a damaged small intestine? If you know me, then you guessed it–because of Jesus! It’s because of Jesus I rejoice! In the midst of my suffering and weakness He makes me strong! No matter my circumstances, I can rejoice in the sealed promise of eternal life in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit inside me!
I can testify that when I am weak I am strong just as Paul did. I have often wondered if God will not remove the thorn in me for the same reason that He would not remove Paul’s thorn. I too have lived through extraordinary supernatural events. Maybe I need the thorn to ground me. In any case, I understand Paul when he said:
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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 made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
It is important to note that in Jewish tradition three times was the maximum amount of times to ask for something. If by the third time, the answer was still no, then that was a final no. What Paul is saying is that God told him very clearly that the thorn was not going to be removed. God did not say He couldn’t remove it. Just that He was not going to for the purpose of perfecting His power in Paul. Nothing is impossible with God and He can heal anytime He wants to! My thorn has a purpose, and He will see it through.
I would like to explain my thorn. Many of you know that I have Celiac Disease and I suffered terribly for the last 6 1/2 years starting on 1-6-12. I was also sick for 10 years leading up to that diagnosis date. Because I went undiagnosed for so long, the disease severely damaged the lining of my small intestine. It killed a lot of the villi, which are the tiny hair-like structures that fill the intestinal lining. These are crucial for survival because the villi absorb nutrients from the food we eat. If you lose enough of them, then you become emaciated and die as if you were starving to death.
That is what was happening to me for 10 years leading up to my diagnosis. I was starving from the inside as my own body attacked my small intestine in a full blown auto-immune reaction to the protein “gliadin” (a.k.a. gluten) found in wheat. On 1-6-12 I only weighed 128 pounds. I am 6’1″ tall and I used to weigh around 160-165. I played basketball, ice hockey, lifted weights, mountain biked, and did a lot more snowboarding than I will probably ever do again. I was a physically strong and fit guy.
The loss of villi caused a separate condition known as Cachexia or “wasting syndrome.” I cannot gain weight normally anymore because too many villi are dead. The Cachexia causes an up and down weight gain and loss cycle every few weeks. I get up to about 145 at the highest and then over about a week I go all the way down to 134 or 135 pounds. Then over the next couple weeks I regain the weight, and I go through the whole process again once I get to the top. Yes, it hurts and it can be maddening…but I press in to Jesus even more!
I am weaker physically now than I once was, but I am also the spiritually sharpest and strongest I have ever been in my walk with Jesus! For when I am weak, then I am strong, and I choose to rejoice in the Lord and be glad despite my thorn!
If you could feel the love of Jesus like I felt it when I stopped breathing in 2012, those of you who don’t know Him yet would come running to Him right now! Jesus loves you! I pray you find that you truly can rejoice in that truth!
Grace and peace to you all!