Living with the thorns

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul talked about his thorn in the flesh. There were some who believed that his thorn was a person, however I believe that his thorn was a health issue, specifically an eye problem that he spoke about. For those of you that are 100 percent healthy, count it a blessing, and enjoy it while it lasts. For the rest of us, we all live with one or more thorns. The point of this article is to encourage you to press on, in the midst of the thorn.

I served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1981-1985. In 1982, I would be diagnosed with a thorn, as well as realized a second thorn. The thorn that I realized and that would have an impact on my last three years in the Coast Guard was, of all things, seasickness. My assignment, once I finished my technical school, was Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet. My first case, on my first day, was in the midst of a tropical depression, twenty-five-foot breaking surf, with a sailboat disabled and adrift. I had gotten seasick one other time, when I was younger, but little did I know how much I would fight it from 1982-1985. I did everything I knew to fight it, and nothing worked. In the end, I would learn to live with it, never giving up and never asking for a transfer.

The diagnosed thorn would begin a journey that continues to this day. My diagnosed thorn was ulcerative colitis, one in which doctors do not know the cause, and one that my gastroenterologist says will not see a cure in my lifetime. Ulcerative colitis is a disease that attacks the large intestine. This disease has caused me to have to live my life a bit differently than others. Keep in mind; I was diagnosed with this, while on active duty in the Coast Guard, and lived with it as a firefighter from 1985-2010.

I wrote this article because I know that many people deal with physical thorns, some much worse than mine. It is because of my faith in the Lord that I have been able to deal with all that has happened because of my thorns. Whatever your thorn happens to be, let me encourage you to press on through it. You may not realize it, but God may be using you to teach others in the midst of your journey. Incidentally, my love for the sea keeps me on the ocean every chance that I get. It was not until recently that I was introduced to a generic, over-the-counter, seasick pill that has allowed me to overcome this thorn. I do not expect the same for the ulcerative colitis, but I consider myself blessed.


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