Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh…. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness,”… for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NRSV)
There have been many guesses as to what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. It does not really matter for our purposes what it actually was. The key issue is that no matter what our own thorn in the flesh is, God’s grace is sufficient to deal with whatever the thorn’s consequences may be.
My thorn in the flesh is insomnia. I have difficulty sleeping whenever I get overstimulated or “too elated,” as the scripture puts it. I have a mood disorder called schizo-affective syndrome. It is a thought disorder which swings from mania to depression. Sometimes the mania is so intense my mind just doesn’t shut down at night.
To avoid insomnia, I have tried everything imaginable. Some things work, for a time at least. I have appealed to the Lord for His help. I have adjusted my activities to cope with insomnia’s disastrous consequences. Although I am never comfortable with accepting the reality of insomnia in my life, I have come to see it as one of my guardian angles—an angel that keeps me from excess, from becoming too “elated.” The power that drives my Christian life, that allows me to accomplish what good I can, is due to, made perfect by, my very weakness.
My prayer: “Dear Lord, help me not to fret too much when I can’t fall asleep. Let me discover what is behind my prideful elation and deal with the disease rather than the symptom. Let my life be an example of being made perfect in weakness. Amen.”