Living With Thorns

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Synopsis of Living with Thorns

Good and joyful morning to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite…. we’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of God.

And today’s slices comes from: Second Corinthians 1:23 Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. 24 but that does not mean we want to tell you exactly how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy as you stand firm in your faith.           and….

2 Corinthians 2:1 So I said to myself, “no, I won’t do it. I won’t make them unhappy with another painful visit.” 2 for if I cause you pain and make you sad, who is going to make me glad? 3 that is why I wrote as I did in my last letter, so that when I do come, I will not be made sad by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you know that my happiness depends on your happiness. 4 how painful it was to write that letter! Heartbroken, I cried over it. I didn’t want to hurt you, but I wanted you to know how very much I love you. 5 I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt your entire church more than he hurt me. 6 he was punished enough when most of you were united in your judgment against him. 7 now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover. 8 now show him that you still love him. 9 I wrote to you as I did to find out how far you would go in obeying me. 10 when you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11 so that Corinthian will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.

So… Here we see Paul wanting to reprimand the Corinthian church who was being caustic, ugly, angry… at a member of the church family. But he was careful to advise them that their anger toward this man could do more harm to both the man and the church family. They could become a thorn in the man’s side that would keep him from recovering from his erroneous ways.

Friends this can be the same situation in a normal family. Paul certainly understood what it was like to live with a thorn in his side. 2nd. Corinthians 12:7 then I am strong.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 Corinthian to torment me and keep me from getting proud. 8 three different times I begged the lord to take it away. 9 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 weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. 10 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,

God did not remove Paul’s thorn. Do you live with a thorn that torments you? Do you live with a circumstance in your life that God does not change, no matter how you’ve cried out to him, how many prayers have you prayed, how many tears have you shed, or how hard you’ve tried to improve it? Do you live with pain that may be emotional, relational or physical. You may be suffering from an estranged relationship, a chronic illness, a difficult marriage, depression, a struggle with an addiction, or a love one’s addiction, perhaps the scars of an abused past.

The trite expression “God always answers prayer; sometimes he says yes, sometimes he says no… and sometimes he says wait”. You do not find comfort in this truth?

Perhaps your thorn is not for publication…. However it is hopeful that you have a trusted confidant to share it with. Two in prayer is more powerful than one. God said… “Where two or more are there, so there will I be.” Wrestling with mental exercises in trying to understand God’s ways is not constructive. Learning to effectively comfort grieving family and ease their pain is helpful. In other words…. We are finally lead not to the answer but to the answerer.

Helen Keller certainly understood living with a thorn in her side. And yet she wrote… “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet, only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition in spirit and success achieved.”

If you have a thorn in your side you are in good company. Paul was not the only person in scripture who did. Jesus wore a crown of thorns. Think of the profound fact that he wore our thorn to the cross, as he died for our sins. God protects us through our pain, but he does not eliminate it while we live on earth. He uses it for His purpose.

In Mark chapter 4 the parable of the sower Jesus said… “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.” He is saying to us that our thorns have the potential to choke out our faith. But if we can find a way to live with our thorns by trusting God it may strengthen our faith and at the same time enhance our lives. This is our challenge.

Keep in mind …. As God may not be removing your thorn as you desire, or as fast as you wish, he may be changing you at your core.

A great example ot this comes to us in the book of Hosea chapter 2, verses 6 and 7. “Therefore I will block her road with thorn-bushes, and obstruct her path with a wall, so that she can no longer follow her old ways. When she pursues her lovers she will not overtake them. When she looks for them she will not find them; then she will say “I will go back to my husband again; I was better off with him than I am now.”

Give this some thought….when has God blocked your way with thorns so that your relationship with him would be strengthened? If you were running away from God, did it cause you to run back to him?

Phillip Yance wrote in one of his books… “The Surgery of Life Hurts”  : It helps me, however, to know that the surgeon himself, the wounded surgeon has felt every stab of pain and every sorrow.”

Even though we live our lives strangled by thorns, I have observed that God hears our cries and sends roses. Sometimes he sends a single rose put in an unexpected place, and other times he delivers a bouquet. Also, think about this…. In the midst of our struggles perhaps we can be God’s roses to other hurting people.

Have you reached the point of despair? Webster’s dictionary defines despair as… “an utter loss of hope or confidence”.

Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, “In the name of Jesus”, “Beneath all the great accomplishments of our time there is a deep current of despair. While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society… the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression, a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world.” Yes my friends, this kind of despair leads people to wonder if anyone loves them or even cares.

Alast….

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