"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Monday, February 17, 2014

What Is Your Thorn?

A Thorn In My Flesh

I had a rough sleep last night.  I’m pretty sure I did  sleep, but it was a tossing and turning, heart-pounding sleep, the kind where you lay there wide awake for a long time, sweating and turning and getting up for a drink, then another, and another, and another. 

It was a "thorn in my flesh" that kept me awake. Not an actual thorn. Rather, an affliction (read "torment") that remains in place in spite of my many pleas to God to remove it. The Apostle Paul wrote about such a thorn in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order 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 made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 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.

Like Paul, I have some afflictions.  Some are physical ailments such as severe joint pain and respiratory issues, and some are of a non-physical nature, such as unfulfilled dreams, failed goals, and unmet desires.  I have had to make the hard decision to give up on some of my dreams and desires and have asked God to help me deal with the pain of reality.  I have cried out to Him, asking Him to purge from my heart the desires that torment me.  So far His answer has been “no” which leaves me tormented by my own thorns.

They say that when God closes a door He opens a window.  I believe that sometimes instead of opening a window He says "I want you to deal with this closed door for the rest of your life.  It will make you depend on me for strength and will draw you closer to me."  After all, God even said "no" to his own son, Jesus.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”(Matthew 26:39)
Husband, do you have a thorn?

Is there something you have been longing for in your marriage?  Is there an area of desire or an unfulfilled dream that you have tried to accomplish but just can't for whatever reason?  Maybe you don't have the finances, maybe you don't have the physical strength, or maybe your wife said "no."  It could be a dream that you want to achieve, a change of jobs, a larger, financially out-of-reach home, a desire for closer intimacy, or something else.  If you asked God to help you achieve it but He didn't and He won't remove the desire from your heart, what are you going to do?

Here are some ideas ...

Pray - Pray for God to reveal His will for your marriage.  Pray that He will turn your marriage into the one-flesh union He intended it to be.  Pray for your wife and for yourself.  Pray that you will be able to make the sacrifices and not hold those "no's" in your heart forever.  

Talk - Talk with your wife about your dreams and desires.  Let her know the struggle you are dealing with.  ask her to pray with you and for you.  If there is a way for her to help ease your burden, ask her to do it.  Maybe she will be able to help.

Read - Get out your Bible and read it.  Also, go online and find good, Christian blogs about marriage.  Take to heart what the authors write and put it into practice.

Release - Let go of your desires and give them to God.  He has your best interest at heart, and He will stand by you, hold you, and help you through it, even when you are so frustrated that you could explode.

Is this going to be easy?  Of course not.  I can tell you from personal experience that some things feel so important that you can't imagine God denying your request to remove a desire you know will never come to fruition.   All you can do is give it to Him and trust that He will work it out for your good.  And, of course, put up with the occasional sleepless night.