Have you ever wondered why God created a beautiful, fragrant and exquisite flower like the rose, only to have the stems covered with sharp, prickly and annoying thorns? Don’t the thorns seem to diminish its beauty and make the rose less desirable? Wouldn’t they be more appealing if they didn’t possess these cruel prickles?
Many times, I have viewed the many difficulties and trials that our family has faced as unwanted thorns that seem to greatly hinder our effectiveness and purpose in life. Our desire has been to actively serve the Lord. However, we have frequently spent months at a time in a hospital, taking care of our sick children. We thought we knew where God wanted us to minister, but many times our plans were drastically changed. During our first ten years of marriage, we lived approximately two and a half years in a hospital. There were many times when we questioned God and wondered if He really was in control, and why He was allowing all of these terrible things to happen to us. Many of you are currently experiencing devastating events in your lives. What should we do during these times of crisis? How can we ever find healing during these devastating times? (You can read more about our family’s journey in our book, “Big Mountain, Bigger God”.)
Through our experiences, we have seen how crucial it is to be transparent and honest with the turmoil and all of the emotions that we face during a heart-breaking situation. It is not unusual to feel emotions of anger and frustration. It is even normal and acceptable to question whether God is good and worthy of your trust when your life seems to be falling apart. Grieving for any kind of a loss is a process. It will take time to find the answers to all of your questions, and some of them may never be answered. It is vitally important, however, that you don’t become hardened but allow the healing process to continue. With time and daily exposure to God’s Word, you will begin to see your trials as blessings in disguise, just like the thorns on a rose bush.
God created the sharp thorns on a rose to protect these fragrant and delicate flowers. The thorns drive predators away because they don’t want the experience of getting pricked. The roses have the advantage of growing bigger than many other flowering species because of this protection that surrounds them. God created these beautiful roses and gave them thorns to protect and perfect them.
Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh. In 2 Cor. 12:10 he states, “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.” The literal translation is…”Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, being insulted, experiencing emergencies, and being chased and forced into a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, I am DYNAMITE.”
How could Paul truly mean this? Did he really know what he was saying, or was he not quite in touch with reality like we are today? In my next blog, I will talk about what gave Paul this perspective. I will share the vital (and many times lacking!) key in having the right perspective when we face tough times.
A blind preacher named George Matheson once said, “My dear God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses but not once for my thorns. I have always looked forward to the place where I will be rewarded for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as a present glory itself.”
Teach me, dear God, to glory in my cross. Teach me to see the value of my thorns. Show me how I have climbed higher to You through my path of pain. Show me that it is only because of my tears, that I have seen my rainbows.