Thanks for the Thorns

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Ps. 30:5, NIV.

An ancient legend tells of a woman who comes to be ferried across the river Styx to the land of departed spirits. The ferryman, Charon, offers her a potion that would cause her to forget the life she is leaving. In the end she doesn't drink it. She chooses to remember life's pains, sorrows, and failures rather than to forget its joys, triumphs, and loves.

We discover the significance of life when we enjoy its pleasures and gladly accept its pain, suffering, and disappointments.

The famous Scottish preacher George Matheson, who found it hard to praise God when things went wrong, learned this lesson. When he began to lose his sight, he struggled with his burden until he was able to pray, "Oh, my God, I've never given Thee thanks for my thorns in the flesh. Thousands of times I've given Thee thanks for my roses, but not even once for the thorns. I've looked forward to a world where I'll be recompensed for my cross, but I've never thought of my cross as a present glory. Teach me the worth of my thorn" (Our Daily Bread, April 14, 1990).

All of us have thorns we must live with. We can pray for deliverance and acceptance as David did. In his anxiety and anguish he often cried out to God, "O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish" (Ps. 6:1-3, NIV). But he was also able to accept the thorns and sing, "Your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4, NIV).

As we read God's Word we can be comforted by how Jesus' presence and His words "I am the resurrection and the life" transformed Mary and Martha's pain and grief (John 11:25, NIV). And we can say with apostle Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. 12:9, NIV).

When bad things happen to you, pray the prayer of George Matheson: "Teach me the worth of my thorn," and praise the Lord.

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.