9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:1–10
The room tingled with warmth as heat escaped the oven, hailing the promise of a golden turkey. The familiar comfort food and sweets lining the table awaited the Thanksgiving blessing. However, this day was no comfort to me, and blessings would not flow from my lips. For on this day, an invisible disease, a thorn, had become very visible to me. I had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
I am one of about 1 million T1Ds in the U.S. whose pancreas no longer produces insulin. Our struggle is not defined by eating too much sugar, but by an autoimmune disease with genetic and environmental factors. Our body turned on itself and attacked our insulin-producing cells. As T1Ds, our days are marked by constant calculations and calibrations to balance our food intake, stress, exercise, sleep, etc. with the right level of insulin.
In contrast, the human body perfectly designed by God releases insulin on autopilot. For T1Ds, insulin management is manual. If our blood sugar gets too high or too low, we can slip into a coma. Even being somewhat out of range for prolonged periods can lead to complications like blindness, amputations, or organ failure. The world is different when you are fighting to live every day.
In a way, like Paul, I have had to wrestle with the challenges and weakness that comes from T1D and most likely will for the rest of my life. There have been periods of anger, depression, and lost hope. But after wrestling initially for 7 years, living focused on my thorn and my weakness, I have emerged with a better understanding of God’s grace and His power. Through diabetes I have grown more in awe of God’s amazing design of our bodies. I have leaned daily into God for strength. I have developed a heart to help those who struggle with all the complications that can come from this disease. But most important, I have found strength that lies not in me but in Him and that allows me to overcome the obstacles set before me.