The Perils of Thorns

I have been reading a book by Angela Thomas called Do You Know Who I Am? and Other Brave Questions Women Ask. I love this book and plan to do her Bible Study that is along the same lines titled Brave: Honest Questions Women Ask.

One of the questions asked is Do you know that I am suffering with a thorn? This chapter talks about dealing with something that brings discontentment, something that makes you loose your focus, or something that is just a PAIN, a thorn.

In 2 Corinthians Paul talks about having “a thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. Paul asked the Lord to remove this thorn, but the Lord’s response was that His grace was enough to help him endure.

There are different kinds of thorns, but each one has a purpose. They can be used to call things out in us and reveal chaff (bad stuff) that the Lord wants us to get rid of. They can be used to test our faith. They can be used to keep us humble. Here are some examples.

I feel like my ex-husband is a thorn to me ALL the time. He lives in chaos, which brings chaos to my world where the boys are concerned. A few weeks ago there was a situation where I could have choked him had he been anywhere near me. Once I calmed down I started thinking about the situation. As I was writing an email to a friend about it, I wrote “I think that I have to keep dealing with Dan because of my reaction to him. Fighting is what we do/did through our entire marriage”. You see, I don’t think that Dan has to be a thorn to me. He is frustrating and makes things difficult sometimes, but how I react to him can make the difference of whether or not he is a thorn. I know this is how he is so I need to stop falling into the trap of the dysfunctional cycle that we were in for 17 years. The lesson the Lord wanted me to learn was to react differently. Choose not to let him be the thorn to me. Realize that my reaction is the difference between a situation being easier or more difficult. The choice is mine. The Lord wants to reveal my bad attitudes, unforgiveness, and other things that I need to clean up so that He can move me forward to what He has for me.

Thorns that test our faith might be the hardest. At least it is for me. There are some things that I wanted to happen in my life yesterday (actually, farther back than yesterday), but they are not happening. It seems the likely hood of them happening is getting further and further away. Some days all I hear is silence and I wonder if God is even anywhere near. I don’t have any clear direction except to wait. Every Bible study that I open or dare to put into my cd player echo the same words of waiting on the Lord….there must be a season for the testing of our faith. The more I whine and complain, the longer it seems the Lord will ask me to wait. Patience, the thorn in my flesh, is not a strength of mine. But until I learn to completely trust God and let Him grow my faith, I will be in this place. He wants me to believe with my whole heart that He has a greater plan. He knows that it is hard for me to not know what is going on, to feel out of control with no way to gain control. But He also knows that my greater good and deeper contentment will come from waiting on Him and trusting Him.

Just to keep me humble and from being completely arrogant at work, the last couple of weeks have been a whole thorn bush! Little things that shouldn’t have been missed have showed up, and the worst part is that instead of me being aware of the little devils, the missing details went straight to my boss. They are not things that cause a huge impact or that can’t be fixed quickly, but just tiny little things that add up and make me feel (and look) less than competent in my job. To top off these little nuances, I find out that one of the employees made it their priority to say all manner of bad things about me to my boss that were not true. Monday I was so upset that I closed my office door and cried because I was sure that Logan was going to walk in and fire me on the spot. I know that is unrealistic, but sometimes we need a reminder that we are replaceable. I know that the Lord has been trying to talk to me about my job for a couple of months, but I just didn’t want to hear it. I haven’t been fully engaged because of a number of things, but really nothing should distract me from doing the best job that I can do for my company. After all, this is how I pay the bills, how I am able to provide for the boys. I shouldn’t take it for granted. But I do, despite feeling that I needed to step up and pay a little more attention. Looking back, I see that the Lord was trying to prepare me for this (these) thorn. He wanted me to know that “trouble” was coming. Had I listened a little more perhaps I could have avoided it.  But the lesson here is definitely for me to be thankful, and humble about my position rather than taking it for granted.

There are many other ways that thorns can affect us. There are many lessons that we can learn from our thorns. But what we need to remember is that a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus’ head in order to make our thorns bearable. He understands what we go through and what we face. His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

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