Thorns in my side

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"Thorns in my side" by Susan Bailey (CatholicMom.com)

“Thorn in my side” by Tirzah (2010) via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Why is it that some wounds remain even when one has been healed? Several years ago I lost my singing voice due to acid reflux. I gave up singing, thinking I would never do it again, but after three years of rest, my singing voice returned (and I am sure St. Blaise had something to do with it). I happily joined the adult choir at my parish and took on cantoring duties. I feel deep gratitude that God restored his gift to me.

Yet I had a new and most unwelcome guest with me whenever I sang—fear. I had never experienced stage fright before I lost my voice and now it is my constant companion. It causes me to break out in a cold sweat and I become tremendously self-conscious. Sometimes when my head and heart feel confident, my body still responds with that fear welling up deep inside of me.

One day while leading a song for the congregation I felt a sense from God that I was to walk side by side with this new companion for the rest of my singing days.

Does this mean my healing which I believe I received through the intercession of St. Blaise was somehow incomplete? No. There’s a reason why the fear is present. And it relates back to St. Paul.

"Thorns in my side" by Susan Bailey (CatholicMom.com)

“St. Paul the Apostle” by Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP (2009) via Flickr, CC BY NC-ND 2.0

I love St. Paul; he is a part of the entourage of saints to whom I pray for intercession each day. On my holy card he stands tall, a long sword by his side. Paul was fearless because of the armor provided to him by the Lord. His wisdom and clarity guide me on my spiritual journey. At times he has run beside me, urging me on through this marathon. He will be with me at the finish line.

Paul however had a thorn in his side. While he never revealed the nature of this thorn, still he tells us in 2 Corinthians 12 that the thorn remained despite his pleas to the Lord to remove it. God’s reply to his prayer was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Thus St. Paul declared, “I am weak, then I am strong.”

Reflecting on these verses, I accept my companion of fear and use it as a reminder that God is in control of all things and that through our difficulties he works out his plan for the good.

"Thorns in my side" by Susan Bailey (CatholicMom.com)

“Thorn in my side” by Andreina Schoeberlein (2010) via Flickr, CC BY NC-ND 2.0

How nice it would be if there were only one thorn but there are others. One thorn in particular has me running to the Cross every morning asking for forgiveness for a particular sin. If only I could live with this thorn and not sin, but thankfully, forgiveness is just a prayer away. With God’s grace, someday that thorn will not lead to sin.

I think of the thorn my friend Jackie must endure. It is deep and heavy, a true cross to bear. Her thorn requires her to lean on Jesus every step of the way. Someday I may have to endure such a thorn. It frightens me until I am reminded to stay rooted to the present moment and cling to Jesus.

I must remember to invoke St. Paul the next time one of my thorns trouble me. I can’t think of a more capable and understanding companion.

If you want to be reminded of God’s promise that his grace is sufficient, listen to Matt Maher’s wonderful song, “Your Grace is Enough.” The melody will stick in your mind in an instant. And in singing that line “Your grace is enough, your grace is enough, your grace is enough for me,” perhaps your thorns will become easier to live with too.

Copyright 2017 Susan Bailey

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About Author

Susan Bailey is the author of River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times (Ave Maria Press), and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message (ACTA Publications), part of their Literary Portals to Prayer series.
Along with her blogs Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, Susan writes for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press.

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