Learning to Be Thankful for Thorns
Several years ago I planted three Double Knockout rose bushes in my back yard. These roses continually produce a high volume of unique blooms that are twice as full as normal roses. They also require substantial pruning several times during the growing season. While the blooms are beautiful the pruning is not fun. They produce twice the undergrowth and have twice the thorns, which makes pruning a very painful process. I guess you could say the name – Double Knockout – has a double connotation. I love the roses but hate the thorns.
Most people would share my sentiment. Thorns are neither desirable nor pleasant. But there is no avoiding them, we all have our share. Learning to rejoice in spite of our thorns will make our lives more fulfilling and our disposition much more pleasant.
Let me suggest four reasons why every believer should be thankful for thorns.
1. Thorns remind us of our natural sinful character. (Gen. 3)
Scripture tells us that thorns are the result of man’s choice to disregard God’s instruction. Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree and man has been fighting thorns ever since. Understanding our natural predisposition toward sin prepares us for reconciliation with our creator, and makes us more dependent upon our Savior after redemption.
2. Thorns prevent our enemy from prevailing against us. (Job 1)
Satan understands this truth all too well. When he presumed to challenge the Lord concerning Job’s faithfulness he cited the Lord’s protection of His child with two questions: “Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? (Job1:7)” While thorns are not specifically mentioned in the passage it was common for any hedge purposed for protection to be composed of thorns, and the Hebrew word translated “hedge” in the verse carries that connotation.
3. Thorns allow God to use us for His glory. (2 Cor. 12)
When God informed the Apostle Paul that his thorn was going to remain, the Apostle had two choices: He could resent the thorn and become bitter toward God, or he could thank the Lord for the thorn and enjoy the benefit of God’s power and grace. Paul chose the latter, understanding that God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness. Too often we struggle when we should be prospering because we choose to fight rather than rest in the Lord.
4. Thorns remind us of the price our Savior paid to make God’s grace available. (Mat. 15:17)
The Son of God suffered unbelievable pain and humiliation to provide our redemption. The crown placed upon His head by those who crucified Him was composed of thorns, each thorn a symbol of our disobedience, our rebellion against God’s law, our rejection of God’s love. Yet our Savior took upon Himself our sin and in exchange gave His righteousness to us. We could never be worthy of such a sacrifice, and we should take care never to forget it.
Being thankful for thorns does not mean we have to like them; it does mean that we value the benefits we receive from their presence. When we finally realize that thorns make us more like our Savior, we will embrace them eagerly, glory in our infirmities and rejoice that we are counted worthy of God’s marvelous grace.