A Thorn of Flesh
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Last spring I had a feeding tube inserted into my stomach to provide nourishment. I think I referred to it as a necessary agitation. The stomach tube was a constant irritation to my stomach and to by sleeping habits. During my most intense treatment of radiation and chemotherapy I could not eat at all through my mouth. Without the tube I would of not had any way to receive nourishment. There were days where the liquid diet would not even stay down. I forced myself to put eight bottles of Boost down my tube every day. I knew I could not lose any more weight.
Last Wednesday I was able to have the tube removed. I have maintained my current weight for two months and I am eating and taking all of my medications through my mouth now. So, I was able to have my thorn removed from my side.
Overall, I am recovering from all of my treatment. Recently, I had a small concern, I was losing blood in my digestive system somewhere. My red blood cells and my Iron have been low for the past two months. I had a colonoscopy and upper scope done last week and the doctor said that the blood was coming from my stomach tube. That is another reason that I am glad that it has been removed.
They also discovered that the radiation had caused my esophagus to shrink and it was extremely small. They could barely get a scope down. They stretched the esophagus and as a result I am able to swallow and eat just a little better. The doctor wants to stretch it again in six weeks.
I suppose as long as we live in this world we will always ask ourselves, “why do I have a thorn in the flesh?” For the apostle Paul it was a necessary agitation. It allowed him to stay humble and in tune with the Lord. It provided opportunity for him to minister to others. (Galatians 4) I know that the lingering side effects of this cancer will stay with me for the rest of my life. That is okay. God is given me opportunities to minister in other ways and I look forward to what is next for me.
I have learned much over the past year. God has been good to me and has blessed me in so many ways. My wife and family have loved me and nursed me during this difficult time. Our granddaughter called the other day and said she was so excited. When we asked why she said, “Pop got his stomach tube taken out.” That may not seem like much, but to me it was such a source of inspiration that my grandchildren are so concerned about me and that they get excited about the same things that I get excited about.
I got to preach a couple of weeks ago for the first time since my dad’s funeral last April. It was a blessing to be allowed to preach at my home church. It was emotionally and physically challenging. However, I now know that I can endure a couple of hours of preaching and I am looking forward to having opportunities to preach at other locations this year.
At the beginning of this journey I used Isaiah 41:10 as my theme verse. “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be discouraged for I am your God, I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
In spite of the physical thorns in my life, God continues to strengthen and encourage me. I know I can rest in his hands. I still pray this verse as I go through my journey. I know that whatever new thorns come my way that I can continue to do what God has called me to do.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 12:7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.