Have you ever thanked God for the thorns in your life? Paul instructed the Ephesian believers to “give thanks always for all things . . .” -Ephesians 5:20. It is easier said than done, believe me I know, but God has been laying on my heart that truly in ALL things we should be praising Him, for the good and the bad, even the thorns in our lives.
To be thankful for our thorns, we need to see our thorns from heaven’s perspective. It may be difficult to see in our own lives but we can certainly see it in the bible. The biblical examples show how God used thorns/trials to transform and shape a person’s life, and how the individuals responded to their thorn.
Our first glimpse at how God used a thorn/trial was in the story of Joseph. His brothers were always jealous of him and the favor he received from their father. One day they had enough and decided to get rid of him. Instead of killing him, they ended up selling him to traders. Through that experience, which I'm sure was just awful, being sold as a slave, on top of the feelings of betrayal of his family members, God used the situation to help Joseph, to grow him and use him for His ultimate plan. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." -Genesis 50:20
A second example is in the story of Esther. As a child she was orphaned and then was taken away for her only family (Mordecai, her cousin) to become Queen. But once in her royal seat, she had to deal with the enormous responsibility of saving the Jews from being annihilated. Esther could have whined about her situation or not dealt with it at all, but she didn't. She trusted in God and His promises in working past and through the thorn placed in front of her.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says "...even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
How can a person have overflowing joy in the midst of a thorn experience, like the Apostle Paul? Some thorns go on and on, and we are tempted to lose heart. But what will help us press on is God's grace. His grace and His love is more than enough. One of my favorite Hillsong songs says it perfectly 'The riches of your love will always be enough'.
In my own life I have many trials and thorns to deal with. Sometimes I am able to recognize them for what they are and I just pray for strength to get through them. Other times I fail miserably and grumble about them. But I am reminded that it is through these hardships and thorns that we learn to love Him more, to rely on Him more and to trust Him more. The situations or thorns we encounter, God uses them for good, for His good purposes. We need to let Him get in that ground and plow it up. Get in your life (even by using a thorn) to plow up our lives to be fruitful, be become more like His Son who ultimately bore the worse thorns for us.
No, the life and the thorns we have to bear are not always easy, but it is for our good because God has said it so. He is always found faithful. "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." -Isaiah 43:2
The greater story is about God and His love and purpose for our lives. It is perfect during Thanksgiving time to express a thankful heart, in all things, even the thorns.