Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
We all have thorns, each as unique as the person. Thorns cause hardships and struggle, leading many to give up on God. They don’t want to have to surrender everything to Him, not realizing that the gain will be SO much greater. Through our thorns and weaknesses, God can flourish and show His strength and provision. Through thorns come beauty.
My pastor made an analogy once that made so much sense to me: clench both of your hands into a fist. Nothing can get in or out. When our fists are clenched, we can’t fully give or receive anything. We can’t even let Him in. He won’t barge through the door; He will knock softly, patiently. You have to open the door. It takes faith and vulnerability to open your clenched fists completely to let Him in. You can’t just open one fist because you’re still trying to be in control when God wants to be in control of your life. He wants to be your foundation and you can’t just give it to him partially. That means both hands need to be wide open – ready to receive.
My thorn is anxiety. For me, 2015 was a year of letting go and learning to walk on water. Most of my life, I have struggled with the need to be in control of any and every aspect of my life. In 2015, the Lord broke that and forced me to rely on his love, faithfulness, and provision. He gently held my hands and whispered, “I’ve got you. Let go. I love you and I’ve got you.”
This last year I had to let go of a man who I thought was my entire future and trust that my God has a plan for me far better than what I could ever imagine. I had to learn to deal with hurts that have paralyzed me for much of the past few years – hurts that were so deep, I didn’t even realize how much they were affecting me. This year I learned to constantly look up to the One who sees the beginning and the end even when I can only see the smallest sliver. God dove into the wreckage with me and battled it with me and for me because I couldn’t do it on my own. He pulled me up and gave me a firm place to stand. I had to wake up everyday and mentally unclench my fists to my eternal Father because I knew that what He could put in them would be so much greater than the anxiety of keeping them shut.
This year I learned that the gain is so much greater. When you unclench your fists, you will soar and you will do things beyond your imagination even through difficult circumstances and dark times. Once I gave up control and allowed Him to lead me completely, God provided a strong community of women to love on me, Delight, and an incredible man who pushes me toward the Lord. God used all of these to work in me, allowing me to mend relationships that I felt were beyond repair. The year 2015 was an answer to a prayer that I didn’t even realize I was praying, all because I looked to my God and said, “okay Papa, Your will be done. I’m done running from my hurts. I trust you.”
This last year was an incredible blessing and has given me a strong foundation to move with hope into 2016. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to trust. He is the wind in my sails and will lead me — when the seas get rough and I don’t know what to do, He will push me in the right direction as long as I trust and surrender to Him. When the storm comes raging on all sides, look to Him.
In Psalm 89 we are told, [He] rules over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, [He] stills them.
We serve a God that speaks, “don’t be afraid, trust me.” We can look into the eyes of our Savior who controls the wind and the waves, and have peace that when we open ourselves to Him, He is there. As vessels for His grace and love, allow God to open your hands to what He has for you and walk confidently with Him through 2016.
-Kaity Bryant // @kaitybryant