This is an article I wrote for our church newsletter. The newsletter segment is called “Stones of Remembrance.” Each month, church members are asked to write about an experience in their lives where God has proven His faithfulness. So here it is.
The Apostle Paul, we read in 2 Corinthians, was given a thorn in his flesh. Something in Paul’s life served as a constant source of pain and anguish; a heavy burden for him to carry through his ministry. Repeatedly, he asked God to take away the thorn, but God would not.
A thorn that has caused deep pain for Tim and me over the last several years is infertility. We’ve asked God repeatedly to give us a child or suppress our desire for children. He has not. The pain of infertility is different from any other types of pain we have experienced: there is no funeral for our loss or consolation for our grief.
So how can a thorn in the flesh be a Stone of Remembrance?
The answer lies in God’s reply to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Thorns have a way of forcing us to rely on God. Through this trial, God has grown us, changed us, proved his unfailing faithfulness to us, not in spite of our thorn in the flesh, but through it. It often takes a thorn to show us what we truly are: dependent, weak, and broken.
It’s easy to praise God for His goodness when life goes the way we want. It’s when things get tough that we tend to doubt and question. Yet God never changes; His lovingkindness is everlasting. The ability to praise Him in the midst of pain–to say, with Job, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord”–is something that comes only through the power of His Holy Spirit. Looking back over our five years of marriage, there have been times when we have failed and allowed our struggle with childlessness to embitter us rather than send us to the foot of the cross. But through those five years, God has repeatedly proven His faithfulness to us, not by giving us what we want, but by illuminating the all-sufficiency of His abundant grace.