"The Thorn and the Rose"
We all have aspects of life we wish could be different, but which lie beyond our ability to change. We hope, trust, and pray, but the challenges remain. Such matters tempt us to discontent at the very least, and bitterness at the worst. The Apostle Paul experienced such difficulty, which led to discovery:
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it should depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians 12:7-9).
Paul found undeserved and unexpected favor in his thorn. He found grace. His challenge did not start out accordingly. The Apostle's thorn did what all thorns do. It hurt. Even after the discovery of grace in his Lord's assurance and promise, the barb doubtless still distressed Paul. However, God so illuminated Paul's heart and mind with Truth regarding the thorn that our brother of old learned to glory in his pain even as it humbled him - and as it ignited a Light that shines through the ages to enlighten all who read Paul's testimony of grace:
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any tribulation by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God… and whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation" (II Corinthians 1:3-4; 6).
Lingering thorns in us make possible our bestowal of the Rose of Sharon to others (Song of Solomon 2:1). Had Paul not been pricked, had he not bled because of his thorn, we would not know this way of God not only in the Apostle's life, but in our own. The abiding challenge that prayer, trust, and hope will not remove may well be the garden in which God plants the Rose for others. If we did not know the pain of the lingering thorn, we would not be able to bless others with the grace of Christ we discover because of the thorn. "So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (II Corinthians 12:9).
Believers journey upon a hard path in this present life. We must often know joy in sorrow, peace in turmoil, strength in weakness, and the love of God in seeming forsakenness. "The Light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5). In such times, we do well to remember Paul and his testimony of grace bestowed on others through the pain of his thorn. Even more, we look to Another, a Rose who bore an entire crown of thorns in order to redeem us from our sins and lead us to a life lived for the glory of God and the blessing of others…
"He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our face from Him. He was despised and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any tribulation by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
(II Corinthians 1:3-4)