About Dena, Faith, Grace, Pain and suffering

A Thorn in the Flesh

I am locked in a prison of silence.

Yes, as I write this post, I am on day ten of laryngitis. It seems to be a semi-annual affair for me. One minute I am fine; the next, my voice is faint, high-pitched, and very, very squeaky. I’ve been told that I sound like Minnie Mouse on helium.

I have no idea why my voice is so susceptible. A scratchy throat. A cough. Congestion. Allergies. Asthma. I don’t even know any more. The point is, anything can cause my voice to simply disappear…leaving me in a prison of silence. And no one can explain why I lose my voice so easily. I keep seeking answers.

Three years ago, my bout with laryngitis lasted for eight weeks. Eight very long weeks. I tried every known home remedy. I saw family doctors, ear-nose-throat doctors, laryngologists. I even went to a speech therapist. Finally, a speech pathologist at the hospital where I work showed me this nifty trick: if I pushed on a wall and talked, my voice was normal. If I wasn’t pushing, I was Minnie Mouse on helium. Then, push on a wall and I’m back to normal. Talk about entertaining. I certainly turned a few heads with that little trick! And then one day, after a couple weeks of talking while pushing on walls, my voice suddenly returned. Strangest. Thing. Ever.

And my kids. I have to tell you that my kids are very well trained. All I have to do is snap my fingers, clap my hands, stomp my feet. They jump to attention and listen carefully. After years of this battle, it’s just second nature for them. And, when we go places, they jump in and act as my voice. I wish I could get the same response when I have my normal voice…

It’s very, very frustrating. Sometimes painful. Always exhausting. My job requires me to talk all day long. Face-to-face meetings. Phone conversations. All. Day. Long. It is so difficult, so incredibly exhausting, to talk all day, to fight through the weakness. And yet, I do what I have to do.

I’ve asked God many times to take this weakness away, to heal me and allow my voice to be normal again. I’ve asked God why I have to fight this recurrent battle.

I haven’t gotten an answer. I simply consider it my thorn in the flesh.

One thing I notice is that this battle often comes after times of high stress and high activity. Being a single mom requires non-stop activity. Every waking moment is filled with something, and I usually collapse into bed at the end of the day.

Until I get laryngitis. I seem to slow down, take a few days off, rest. I find ways to escape the frenetic pace of my life and get away from it all. I tell the kids they are on their own as I slip into some peace and silence. I do my best to take time for myself, to care for myself.

And I think that’s why God allows it to keep happening. It’s the only way he can get my attention and convince me to rest. I’m pretty stubborn that way.

That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:5-10

As an outsider, we look at Paul’s life and we see an amazing man of God, a man filled with faith and courage. He boldly faced dangers and persecution to share the message of Christ. He had such an intimate relationship with God that he authored a large portion of the New Testament as we know it.

And yet, we don’t have a full understanding of Paul’s life. There was something that plagued him, something that made him feel incredibly weak. We don’t know what it was; we only know that he referred to it as a thorn in the flesh…and he begged God to take it away.

Paul says his thorn in the flesh was to keep him from becoming proud, to keep him humble in light of the amazing revelations he had seen. His thorn in the flesh served a purpose, kept him dependent on God.

And it was a constant reminder that he needs God’s strength, his grace. It reminded him that he is only human serving an omnipotent God. It reminded him that no matter what amazing revelations he heard from God, it was only because of God’s great grace and mercy that he was chosen to serve the kingdom. His thorn in the flesh kept him humble.

I suppose my laryngitis does the same. It’s so easy to get busy, to go through this life at a frenetic pace. I find myself going through the motions of spending time with God, but not actually connecting with him. I am so busy doing that I fail to be: Be still. Be quiet. Be alone with God.

Sometimes God has to bring me to the end of myself, force me to remember I cannot live this life on my own. He has to make me slow down, take care of myself, realize that life keeps going even when I can’t keep juggling all the balls. I can’t say that I like it, but I do understand the purpose.

And, I will delight all the more in his great grace. His grace that sees what I need even when I don’t. His grace that sustains me, especially in the difficult days. His grace that is more than sufficient to see me through. His grace that gives me exactly what I need, exactly when I need it (even if I don’t like it).

I’m thinking I’ll spend the next few days curled up in my bed, taking it easy. It’s time to remember I can’t keep going at this pace. It’s time to let my thorn in the flesh remind me that I am human.

And that I serve an Omnipotent Creator.

11 thoughts on “A Thorn in the Flesh”

  1. This is a devotional blog that I subscribe to. We were just talking about how Paul had a thorn in the flesh that God did not remove and then I get this today. I thought you might like to see it.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Dena, I feel your pain. Eight years ago my thyroid was removed (due to papalary cancer). Though I am healthy today, surgery clipped a nerve and my voice is not always strong. While my throat isn’t sore, straining to talk is at times uncomfortable. Some days are worse than others. I am very verbal so it’s hard when being non-verbal is forced upon me. It’s very humbling. Some days my voice won’t register enough power for Bluetooth to pick it up in the car. God in His grace and mercy…. Strengthens and grows me through it all! I’ll try your trick of pushing on a wall….. At the very least, I will have a new party trick! Continued blessings upon your writing gift. Your words always glorify God and touch my heart.

    1. Oh, how I understand! I get so frustrated trying to use my Bluetooth! Makes me want to cry some days! The wall trick is pretty crazy. I use it driving down the road, push on my steering wheel and talk. It really does make a difference. I am so glad the cancer only took your thyroid and occasionally your voice. But, it is such a struggle. Praying God’s grace continues to sustain you!

  3. Hallo. Your story has given me hope. I am going through divorce and it’s all dark. Keep me in your prayers and need your support

    1. I’m so sorry you are walking through this darkness. But, I promise you can thrive through it! God is incredibly faithful. He will show himself strong on your behalf.

      Lord Jesus, I lift my friend to you. Her heart is breaking. You promise to be near the broken hearted, so I call on you to step in, bind up her wounds, restore her soul. I pray that through the darkness, she will meet her Great I Am, the One who is exactly what she needs exactly when she needs it. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

  4. Dena, Have you been checked for GERD? During her sophomore year, my daughter missed 100 out of 180 days of her school year due to laryngitis that was misdiagnosed. She has GERD (really bad acid reflux) that was worse while she slept. Every morning was a sore throat and little to no voice. I was recently diagnosed with “silent acid reflux” when I went in to find out why I was constantly clearing my throat and seemed like I always had sinus drainage -like I constantly was fighting off some allergy. Just a thought for you… Becky K from WI


    1. I have not had an EGD, but I have been taking nexium regularly. However, this bout is DEFINITELY allergy related. The mountain cedar blew in from Texas, and that’s when it all started. And, my voice is typically stronger in the morning, gets weaker as the day goes on…which is the opposite of how reflux typically works. No matter what, it always attacks my vocal chords. They are weak for some reason and seem to be getting weaker. Thanks so much for sharing! I know you understand the struggle!

  5. Hi Dena-
    I have many comments and thoughts for your other posts, however I’m wondering if your throat issues could be coo extend to a thyroid condition? I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and my ‘throat’ used to hurt a lot and I couldn’t swallow before I was diagnosed. I’m still in quite a battle for my health and I’m walking through an unwanted divorce … Healing is slow but Gid is blessing me. Anyways, just thought maybe you could get your thyroid tested. Check iutbthe symptoms too to see if abythjng is going on with that. It may be a long shot but maybe it’ll help! I just stumbled on your blog and am grateful! I admire you! Blessings. Cristiana

Leave a Reply