Embracing The Thorn That Bleeds You Dry

It’s been a rough couple months for me. As some of you may know, I’ve struggled with intense anxiety for a number of years. And just to clarify, phsyical anxiety and sinful worry are two very different things. When we worry, it often manifests itself in a sense of physical anxiety. I often (95% of the time) experience physical anxiety when I’m not worried about a thing. I feel like a large hand is squeezing my chest. I need to breathe deeply. It’s hard to concentrate. Worry is a sin. I’m not worrying about anything when I feel anxious. Something is malfunctioning in my body. Neurons are misfiring, or serotonin is not being properly absorbed by my brain.

Thankfully, God has given men and women wisdom to create various medicines that can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Over the years I’ve taken different medicines that have really helped me. But here’s the thing: sometimes these medicines quit working. It’s like one day the medicine says, “You know what, I’m sick of doing my job! I quit!” Recently one my medications turned in its resignation. So, for the last month or so, I’ve felt like a piece of dirt.

But in the midst of feeling like a large animal is sitting on my chest, and being unable to concentrate, and generally feeling awful, I’ve been particularly reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:7-9:

…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

The great Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh. He pleaded with God to remove it. He begged. He cried out. But instead of removing the thorn, God did something better for Paul: he gave him sufficient, powerful, sustaining grace.

God has used this thorn of anxiety to teach me some things. He’s taught me that I’m a weak, frail, fragile, easily broken creature. He’s taught me that I can’t do anything apart from him. I can’t breathe, or preach a sermon, or utter a prayer, or play with my kids apart from the empowerment of God. He’s taught me that if I have any success in ministry, or in being a dad, or in being an author, or in being a husband, it’s because his grace is at work in me. I need to learn and embrace these truths. These are hard, yet sweet truths. The anxiety I am experiencing is a severe mercy.

God may take away my anxiety. I pray that he does. But if he doesn’t, I trust him. I trust that he will give me sufficient grace for each day. I trust that his power will be sufficient for me. I’ll embrace the thorn, because I know the thorn is ultimately held by my Father.

+photo by jenny downing

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Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer, & Mixed Martial Arts Salsa Dancing Champion. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook


  • Thank you so very much for this article on your experiences with anxiety! It has given me the perspective I have been searching for for months now! I liked your Facebook page and I am looking forward to reading more of your writing! Thanks again!

  • I’m highly encouraged to know that my troubles can actually be a merciful Godsend. More of God’s enablement for your ministry sir.

  • Thankyou for this article it gives me hope and understanding and reminds me that there is God standing amongst all of the trials in life holding my hand walking beside me

  • Thankyou for this article it gives me hope and understanding and reminds me that there is God standing amongst all of the trials in life holding my hand walking beside me

  • The,Thornton is help by my Father!! That is certainly a relieve to know He is by my si de when it hurts.

  • Thank you! It was a reminder that God, the All Mighty eternally existing One is truly in control in all circumstances & we are to give Him the thanksgiving He deserves for keeping us.

  • After reading this article, I cannot believe that I had this truth planted deep in my heart. God has used various thorns in my life and I still trusted and continue to trust in Him no matter what! Thank you for writing this article.

  • Thank you so much for this article! I know deep anxieties and have been praying fifty times and more (and still do) for never more experiencing this Horror.
    I’m learning to trust God alone. My brain is vulnerable and I can’t rely on it.

  • Thank you for your article. And YES! Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. Apart from Christ’s life within us, we can do nothing. It is only by living and abiding in Him. God bless.

  • Thank you for your message on the limited powers of satan,it encourages me to know that ,the satan’s inflictions are

    Permitted by Christ.

  • I too have struggled with anxiety but through God honored counseling I have become an overcomer. There is a book called Switch on your brain by a Dr. Leaf who resides in South Africa, she is a Christian. The book has helped me overcome my toxic thoughts. Amen! One day at a time my brother. I know your struggle. Peace be with you.

  • I am really touched. Though I was worried about issues in life but now I am relieved because I know my God is bigger than those worries and that His grace is also sufficient for me.
    I bless his name forever.

  • Thanks so much for this piece sir.May God bless you.Coming from the fiery grips of Islam into the marvelous light of our Lord Jesus Christ one tend to skip between two realities of fear and Faith in God…I know that God Almighty is over all!

  • Thanks so much. Yes “it is by grace are we save ……..”Our Father in heaven, we believe Your grace is sufficient for us. Amen!

  • o thanks a lot, now i know how powerless satan is, no more fears of black powers because i now know they cannot touch me without permission from their creator; my Father. May God’s grace continue to see you through sir. Recently I’ve been having intense sexual urge(not married yet) and it’s been almost a year without. i need prayers to wait until i get married.

  • How consoling it is to know that I am not alone in this world to suffer anxiety.. But all powerful God is beside each of us to protect us under His mighty wings …

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