Monday, February 9, 2015

Talking to My Teen About His "Thorn In The Flesh"

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 12:7-10, NLT

Kids like mine have to grow up far too soon.  It's just a tough byproduct of growing up with a serious chronic illness.

From little on, it seems I have been teaching them, "Life's NOT fair, but God IS good," "This ain't heaven,"  and other such difficult truths.  I'm not even sure I always understand these realities, yet, I need to impart them to my children for the mere sake of mental survival and perspective.

As they march towards adulthood, it hits me like a wall that I have to equip them in a very unique way to face young adulthood with the seriousness of rare disease and chronic illness.  Suicide seems to be way too close a companion to teenagers.  When they experience these deep valleys of facing a lifetime with pain, feeling different, expensive treatment, and medical uncertainties, I want to make sure they are filled with God's truth to protect their hearts and minds.

Having been jabbed with IV needles well over 2,000 times in his 14 years of life, my son is no stranger to pain.  If it's not a joint or muscle bleed causing him pain, the treatment itself for his hemophilia can be miserable.

Lately, he has been struggling with some internal struggles.  Being a male, I have to drag out of him what's going on in his heart and mind.  Even though he's not always sure what's causing him distress, talking about it allows us to pray together about it.

Today I was trying to encourage him with Scripture as we talked about some of his struggles.  For males especially, it seems that there is this cultural and maybe even innate pressure to always be strong and capable.  Yet, with a chronic illness like hemophilia, a guy can feel a certain level of weakness.  It was impossible to comfort him without the Holy Spirit bringing to mind 2 Corinthians 12.

It seemed like such a strange concept to him that God LOVES his weakness!  I read the passage to him in several translations, yet it was still tough for him to get his mind around.  After breaking open a Bible commentary to teach him how to further examine Scripture when he's stuck, I was able to show him clearly how God gets MORE glory in seemingly impossible situations when we look like unlikely warriors. He shines when we are feeling diminished.  It's times like these where the amazing God-stories of history emerge.

This knowledge doesn't make his journey any easier.  It DOES validate that he is not alone in the emotional and spiritual struggle of his "thorn in the flesh."  Countless others have been down this road before him.  Profound things have been accomplished through the "broken."  Just look at Paul!

More importantly, God DOES have something to say about this.  Our kids can rest in the assurance that God's got them when they feel weak, discouraged, awkward, less-than, or different.  His power is shining through them!  He's holding them close.  They have infinite value in His hands.  They have a unique platform to put His glory on display.

This is no easier a concept for our kids to grasp than it is for us, but we need to keep speaking this Truth, this Life into them while we can.  God promised us that His word doesn't return to Him void, and He keeps His promises!  When we fill our kids with this eternal hope, the Lord will carry them into adulthood wrapped in all of His might.

PRAY:  Lord, thank You that Your power is made perfect in our weakness.  If it all depended on me, I don't think I could make it.  Thank You that You can use us and our children to put Your glory on display to this dark, dark world.  In You, we have value that far exceeds any disjointed human standards.

~ Barb Dittrich


  1. YES, YES, YES!!! A thousand times, yes!!! I have often thought this about Evie...that she was uniquely called to demonstrate God's power in our weaknesses. We, as parents, want to believe our children belong to us, but they belong to God. He has HIS name written on them, just as we would want to write our names on them: "If found, return to Tammie..." No, they are HIS. xoxoxoxoxo So glad I missed my day so you could write this...

    1. Thanks, Tammie! We're SO blessed to be the mothers of these remarkable kids, aren't we?!