…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh… II Corinthians 12:7
Roses are beautiful, fragrant and the most popular flower ordered to demonstrate love. Yet not far beneath the stunning beauty of the petals lie unsightly and prickly thorns that can cause excruciating pain and penetrate the skin to draw blood.
God uses the illustration of thorns in His Word to describe people who trouble His children. I have had the privilege to work with a few of these thorns. I say a privilege because of all that I learned through each one of them.
I detested having to deal with these difficult people in the workplace. But once I grasped what God was trying to teach me, I gave in and let Him rule my heart instead of my letting my emotions rule me.
There was one particular coworker I had that was the hardest and painful “thorn in the flesh” I have ever experienced. I loved where I worked and the people I worked with but there was one person who made it impossible to enjoy my job so I decided to pray and seek the Lord’s counsel on what to do.
Not long after praying, I heard a radio message about dealing with our “thorns in the flesh” and it was through this message that God gave me valuable insight on dealing with my coworkers.
First, He showed me that He loved them as much as He loved me. Next He showed me that He was teaching me patience:
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. I Peter 2:20
The Lord showed me that He would give me strength in my weakness and that He would be my strength:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. II Corinthians 12:9-10
I started praying differently for my coworker and within a few months, there was a department change and my coworker was moved to the other side of the building!
The time of learning was over and I understood why this “thorn” was here – to teach me patience, acceptance, love, grace and compassion.
There is no timeframe on how long these “thorns” will trouble us. In the natural, roses die and they bloom again. Just as these natural roses bloom, so do the thorns!
That is how it will be in our Christian walk. There will always be a thorn to deal with. Let God show you what He wants to teach you through each one.
Thankfully, Jesus left us the ultimate example of dealing with thorns because He was crowned with a crown made of thorns on the day of His crucifixion, yet He prayed, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Now that is true beauty in the thorns.