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Focus Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 10

The thorn. Paul’s thorn has been widely discussed through the ages. For every person that believes that it was simply a thorn, there is someone else who ‘just knows that it is a metaphor’. I believe that whatever it was; it was painful. Look at the account of Paul’s Christ encounter (Acts 9:5, Wesley New Testament): “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee, to kick against the goads.” A goad was a pointed rod used to urge an animal to move.

Pain is something that is in the news a lot lately. The opioid epidemic that is sweeping across the nation is fueled by people that do not want to deal with pain. It does not matter whether it is imagined, real, or emotional; if there is a suspected pain people simply do not want to embrace it.

Sometimes decisions are made that will have unforeseen consequences when dealing with pain. My proverbial ‘thorn in the flesh’ is one such example. My Mom and Dad took pictures of me when I was little, but I have never seen one taken of me from the left side. The reason is that when I was born, I had two earlobes on the left side. I am sure that it seemed like a no-brainer to my Mom and Dad. “It’s just a cosmetic thing on the outside; not a problem” (paraphrased). So, when I was three years old, I was taken to a skin doctor and the extra lobe was removed. As time went on, occasionally Mom would take me to the same doctor to have warts removed. For some reason, I never liked him and I could never express why.

A couple of years after my surgery, one day I told my Mom that “my watch is broke in my left ear.” I was taken to an audiologist where it was determined that I was partially deaf on the left side (like my Dad). In my senior year of College, a friend of mine was taking audiology 101. I asked her about giving me a hearing test, since I had not had one since I was five. She was thrilled because I had a problem (she had only tested normal people – feel free to run with that …). The professor helped her to assess that I had nerve deafness. I asked her what that was – what caused it? Well, it is loss of the middle band of hearing normally cause by a big fright. Naturally, I called Mom. She says, “Oh. That makes sense.” When I prompted her, she reminded me about my cosmetic surgery.

My “pain” is more of a suppressed pain. The question of grace and forgiveness was already answered in that moment of revelation. My thorn is literally caused by too much flesh, but I embraced it as a gift of God a long time ago. I can attest to how God has used my inability to hear in order to cause me to listen. It is not easy nor does it get easier. But it also does not get old. For a brief time, I used a hearing aid. I found it more of a nuisance than a help. All man’s device did was elevate the noise of man. So, I embrace the grace of God’s gift to speak to me with His still small voice and know Him.

Amen.

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