Two steps forward and two steps back. Stuck. Like I’ve been going nowhere. I’ve been here many times in my recovery; it’s a part of the process. I shared in my open share group recently that I didn’t know how to do recovery from where I am today, because I’ve never been where I am today before. Healthier. No chaos. Relationships growing. Yet, I can still feel stuck.
During one of these icky times, I was praying and spending some time with God and a thought popped in my head, “I am Israel.” Throughout the Old Testament Israel would mess up then come running back to God, mess up then come running back, over and over again. What a perfect picture of my recovery! Back and forth, back and forth. Later, God brought 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 to my mind:
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
And I finally got it, what this scripture meant. God brought it all together with my realization that I am Israel. On some level I always considered this scripture to mean that Paul would never have victory over the thorn in his side because I focused on the thorn. I would think about myself, “Well, this is the thorn in my side, it obviously isn’t going away, this weakness of mine will just be with me forever” and I would give very little consideration to the rest of the scripture.
But what the scripture is telling me is that God leaves the thorn so that any victory I have in this area can only be attributed to him. The struggle may not leave me, so any victories will be a fight, but I WILL HAVE VICTORIES nonetheless, and they will only be God’s victories, not mine. It will be obvious that I was weak in the fight and that the win is His alone. I became so excited about this illumination from the Holy Spirit! After Paul asked God to remove his thorn, God told him His grace is sufficient because his power is perfected in weakness. Grace means unmerited favor. If my thorn represents my weaknesses, when covered in his undeserved favor, it brings glory to God as His power brings the victory, instead of the failure from my flesh. My thorn, which is a weakness of mine, becomes a strength as long as I put it in his hands alone! Hallelujah Lord!
Praise God that I can be weak so that He may be strong! So, I too will boast in my weakness, which to me means “being real” and transparent in my recovery, because in bringing my struggles and sins, my hurts, habits, and hang-ups into the light, showing my true self, God’s power continues to pour over me! I know in some areas I will continue to “be Israel,” because he chooses to leave my thorns and I’m okay with that. I will keep running back to my Savior and experience his power and grace.