Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Rose and the Thorns

If you want to bloom where you are planted then you need to learn to deal with thorns effectively.  Thorns are the things that cause us ongoing pain.  They are those people or circumstances that seem to plague us.  It could be failing health, an unhealthy relationship, or an emotional scar that doesn’t seem to heal.  It is something we feel plagues us and we can’t seem to do anything about it.  Oh, you will try to pluck out the thorns, but getting rid of your own thorns is impossible.  It is impossible because the author of the universe uses thorns to teach us.  If a thorn remains when we beg for it to be taken away, it is because there is still something that we need to learn.

Too often we use thorns as an impediment to victorious living.  We say to ourselves “If only I didn’t have this thorn, I would serve more, read my Bible more, be more. “ But what if we stopped waiting for our thorn to be taken away and look at it in a different light? What if we thanked God that he cares enough about us that he wants to teach us about his love and the only way he can do it is through our thorns.

One thing that our thorns can teach us is to have humility.  Thorns keep us teachable.  They make us feel weak and at the end of ourselves.  When we are at the end of ourselves, that is where God begins.  He has all the power of the universe at his disposal and can work his glory into any situation.  When we are weak, he is strong.

Paul suffered terribly from a thorn.  Three times he begged God to remove it.  It is only when he stopped begging for it to removed that he discovered the secret of contentment.  He discovered that he “could do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

In thinking of thorns, I thought mine was cancer.  Maybe it was in the beginning when everything was new and freshly painful.  But now it is part of my life.  I don’t have to even think about the meaning behind it all.  I know, with absolute certainty, that God is using it for my good and his Glory. 

If I am not careful, I could get a big head when it comes to how I am dealing with my cancer.  I get complements all the time about how strong I am and how I am such an inspiration.  I try to give the glory to God because I know that without him, I would be a big puddle of mess on the floor.

But Cancer isn’t teaching me humility.  You know what does? My kids.  I soon realize, as my seven year old pitches a fit or I have to change my 5 years olds pull up ( I know?? Five??) that I am little and life is not in my control.  Motherhood is rewarding, but it is also thankless.

I often find myself thinking “If only my kids were older I would write more, serve more, be more.”  If only my kids would behave better then I could get more done.  But what if God wants to teach me through my kids?  By focusing on the negative side of motherhood, I am missing the beauty of my life and family.  By focusing on the thorn, I am missing the beauty of the rose.

My kids teach me that I can’t be a good mother without God.  Control is an illusion and I need God to work his glory into my life and I can’t do that if I am doing it all in my own power. Dealing with the unpleasant side of motherhood draws me to my knees where (in my stronger moments) I pray “Lord, help me be a better mother”  not “Lord,  make my kids behave!!!” 

If you concentrate on the thorns, you will never enjoy the beauty of the rose, either.  And life is beautiful.  Don’t waste another minute asking “why this, Lord?”  We all have our own thorn to bear, unique to what God wants to teach us.  He loves us enough to not leave us with meaningless, shallow existences.  We could just have a picture of the rose, the beauty of the rose without the pain of the thorn.  But a picture doesn’t smell or have depth.  The picture pales in comparison to the real thing.  

Embrace your thorns.  Learn from them.  Thank God for them.  Don’t miss the beauty of the rose because you are afraid a few thorns.      

2 Cor 12:9  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”