Roses are beautiful, but when you cut them you need to watch out for the thorns so you don’t prick yourself. Raspberries are delicious fresh off the bush, but depending on the variety, you need to watch out for thorns. Those thorny weeds in the garden or growing up in the cracks of your sidewalk are a pain. And for those, you get the heavy duty gloves out to yank them up with all your might (because you know those roots are big) and your hands are protected from the thorns.
Life has probably handed you some thorns. Whether it’s a temptation, a loss, a gain (specifically of 1.5 billion dollars!), fleas in the house, a broken down car, a divorce, a firing, a kid suspended from school, or whatever else these things are thorns. What are we supposed to do? Sure the saying goes, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” but boy it’s hard, isn’t it?
Let’s turn to the Bible, because God gave us that book so we would have the answers. If that isn’t the first place you turn, you’re not alone. I often try to solve things on my own in the way I think it should happen. But, the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So, God is working through your thorn! Yes, that thing that we classify as “trouble” or “a bother” can be used by God for His purpose! There’s a new perspective on things.
How about Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10? He says beginning in verse 7, “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”” God is not putting the thorn there, but He is capable of using it for His glory and purpose.
Maybe you have heard of a side hustle? It’s a side job that brings in some extra income to use to invest, pay for kids sports, or whatever. Like this blog could be a side hustle if I could spend enough time and figure out how to get it out there. My Teacher Pay Teacher store is a side hustle bringing in a small amount. But, have you heard of a side mission?
A side mission is when we get distracted by that thorn, let it consume us, and then try to go off and solve it all ourselves. And, when we try to solve it ourselves we are trying to bring glory and praise for ourselves and be able to say, “Ha, look what I did!” or “Na-na-na-na-na I solved the problem and you didn’t”. Neither are a very humble response.
Listening for God’s response when we cry out about our thorns is hard. It’s hard to wait and it’s hard to hear. Be sure to listen and give thanks when a thorn is lifted. Remember Jesus always had a thorn in his life – he knew he was born to die. And yet, he was perfect. Philippians 2:3-8 tells us to be humble and take an interest in others. Maybe by doing that, your thorn becomes smaller or becomes a back burner issue because your joy is now in helping others with their thorns.
Thorns help keep us motivated…and on God’s purpose.
And that, is the reason for the thorns in your life. Use them to keep you on mission for God. As I was writing this, I was about halfway through and then had to go to work. I ran into a couple of thorns there and it made me think about what I was writing. I had a choice. I can let the thorn bring me down and cloud my vision or I can put it into Godly perspective and work my way through it with His help. So, I chose to help a friend instead and be present for my kids as we ate some really thick pea soup. I’m telling you, it’s not easy when my human response is to growl like a bear, but I’m going to pray for help and try.
So, try to figure out what your thorns are. Chances are, that won’t be the hard part! Then, look around you. How can your thorn help someone else through theirs? And, what action can you take to help relieve someone else’s thorn which will diminish your focus on your own thorn? Don’t try to hide! Go!