Growing Fond of Thorns

 

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

I’d be lying if I said I am thoroughly enjoying pregnancy. Even with all the “oohs” and “aahs”, the cute clothes and toys, and the dreams of holding a cute baby in my arms, there are definitely things that go with i that are less than pleasant. The task is so physical, and you can’t escape it – it affects everything about your body, your mind, and your spirit. You are trying to prepare for a task you can’t fully prepare for (parenthood), and you experience all sorts of thoughts about that: am I ready for this? Will I like being a mother? Will my baby like me? How will I survive those dreaded first couple of months? It is exhausting, at times overwhelming, and there have been times when I’ve wished I wasn’t pregnant.

Because of the fallen world we live in, everything we experience in life will have its downsides – few people knew struggled living better than Paul. Known to us today as a pillar of the faith, a strong and outstanding saint and servant for Christ Paul faced many hardships, and counted himself as the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9). In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we find a verse that many might see written up on their church walls or on a post-it stamp in someone’s house: My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

It may not feel like it when you feel like you don’t have the strength to go on. It may not feel like it when you can’t stop crying, or worrying, or doubting. But this is the truth: although God may not remove the thorn, He will preserve us with sustaining grace; a reminder and encouragement that thorns are given to us so that we might display the strength of God. I love the rose analogy by Helen Roseveare:

Suppose, during your hardest trial, I held up a rose to you, and said, “This is what you might have become, had God prevented your suffering. But this is what He is doing instead,” and you cut into the rose. You strip away the bark. Slice off the thorns. But it doesn’t end there – you cut away the petals, until the entire beautiful bulb at the top is gone. You wittle the rose down to almost nothing, until – you’re left with a pure white, straight, sharp arrow. A deadly weapon that can be placed into a bow, and shot into the heart of an enemy.

How much better it is for us to humble ourselves to God, in all situations – good and bad – that we may experience His sustaining grace through all kinds of trials; and so become more useful for Him and the works of His Kingdom here on earth!

This week I’ve also been encouraged by a poem written by Martha Snell Nicholson (a “mendicant” is a beggar):

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne

And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart

I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.

This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”

He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”

I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,

As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,

He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.”

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