Today as I sat in a women’s Bible study, based on Paul’s confession of his “thorm in the side” in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, in which Jennifer Rothschild talks about “thorns” in our lives and how we respond to them, I was reminded of a song that a friend sang at a retreat in 2002 entitled “The Blessing in the Thorn”. The lyrics are as follows:
“I read about a man of God, who gloried in his weakness;
And I wish that I could be more like him and less like me.
Am I to blame for what I’m not, or is pain the way God teaches me to grow?
I need to know…
When does the thorn become a blessing?
When does the pain become a friend?
When does my weakness make me stronger?
When does my faith make me whole again?
I want to feel His arms around me
In the middle of my raging storm,
So that I can see the blessing in the thorn.
I’ve heard it said the strength of Christ is perfect in my weakness,
And the more that I go through, the more I prove the promise true.
His love will go to any length, and reaches even now to where I am,
But tell me once again…. (chorus repeated).”
The group talked a moment about finding blessing in their thorns. As I listened it occurred to me that what many of us pray for in the midst of our suffering is “bliss”- we want to be freed from the pain; we want comfort, security, healing, provision, etc.- whatever will make us feel good again. The vowel in the middle of that word is “i” and that is exactly what we are focused on in that state of mind. I want, I need, I must have, I desire, I would like, I…., I…., I….,I….
What God wants is to “bless” us. As a science trained person, for me “e” is the scientific notation for energy, power, equipping. In Albert Einstein’s famous theory of relativity formula, e=mc(squared), the “e” is energy. What I think Paul is telling us is that God wants to equip us, give us energy in the midst of our struggles. That’s what His blessing is, His grace sufficient for whatever it is we need to get through that moment. Our focus needs to be on Him and the grace He gives us to power us through the struggle.
When we find ourselves in distress we need to be very attentive to our prayers and desires. Are we seeking to be “blissed” or a “blessed” by the Lord? The quality of our walk with Him will dictate the condition of our heart and that determines which vowel we put into our prayer.