I’ve been studying about Thorns this week…not actual thorns on rose bushes and other such deceptively beautiful plants…but flesh thorns, those things that stick and fester and cause us to doubt everything God created us to be. They take on many names, you have seen them if not felt them: molestation, rape, insecurity, fear, abuse, infidelity, abortion, abandonment, sexuality, depression, or divorce. In just a matter of minutes, in most cases, they stick fast, and there they are, to be contended with or not.
I have dealt with my thorn for almost 30 years. A thorn I didn’t have any control or say over, and a thorn that was innocently thrust in. But, a thorn is a thorn, and so year after year, phase after phase, situation after situation, that same thorn poked and throbbed and tortured me. Yes. TORTURED me.
During this week, I felt its jab again. Because, we are after all studying thorns, and mine for so many years has been so real, so evident, so deep. So, as I do, when I see the evidence of the thorn I take it before God. This week, He taught me something that I have been too scared or too ashamed to see before, something that I want to share with you.
For years, I have pictured myself, as a little girl pouting before almighty God and showing Him my thorn. It would stick, I would hurt, I would cry and take it to my Father…and show it to Him. A year ago I did this, and He reached for it. I finally extended my hand far enough and held it out long enough that He grabbed my arm gently and pulled it to Him. I watched in admiration and humility as this thorn that had been giving me so much pain for so many years, was being pulled out! He dried my tears, danced with me, and instructed me to move forward and make a difference.
That boldness wasn’t without opposition. You see, for every step I moved to make a difference and to share what I had learned, the enemy met me with discouragement and fear and a greater attempt to discredit me and what God had called me to be. I wrestled with that, and every time, though knocked down for a moment, he discovered I wasn’t down for the count. So he dug deeper, and sent that fiery dart straight into my scar from my thorn.
Wounded, brutally broken, I nursed my thorn again. Angry and disappointed, pointing that finger at God, He offered to hold it. I pulled back, afraid. What if it hurt more this time, what if the thorn was bigger, what if it had never been removed at all, but only hidden? So, I held it out to Him, only to show Him with a pout that I was hurting yet again.
Yesterday, in my prayer time, I tried to show Him my scar, but He wouldn’t look at it. It’s a really strange feeling to be vulnerable before God and feel that He is disinterested. So, I dropped my hand and kept at my work, figuring I had done something wrong. Then last night, He spoke to me. He spoke to me in a picture, my picture, our picture.
I saw Lily (my 8 year old) hurting, crying, pouting holding her hand, looking at it. Her Daddy came up and asked her what was wrong, and she showed him her finger, “It hurts; it’s my thorn.” He reached for it and she pulled back, “NO! It’ll hurt worse! You’ll hurt me!” He stooped down and reached again, “Can I please just see your hand?” Defiant and crying, she pulled her hand away and told him no. Then seriously, he reached out for it again, “Honey, you have to trust me.” She looked at him, considering this request, but convinced that only she could effectively nurse her wound, she attempted to pull the thorn out on her own. Watching her, and sympathizing, he wouldn’t be dismayed, “Can I show you something?” Lily still holding her hand slowly raised her finger, cautiously. “Where is the thorn?” he asked. Confused she grabbed back her finger, “It’s…” He smiled and picked her up and placed her on his shoulders.
This morning, I woke up and understood. It’s GONE. This thing that I have tried to nurse, and I’ve been trying to understand, and I’ve been showing God for sympathy, is actually gone. The pain that I feel is real, but it isn’t the thorn. It’s a result of the thorn, one of the effects of the thorn, but the thorn itself… it was removed a year ago. So, today I have two choices: I can keep holding my hand, pouting over a wound that is healing and a thorn that is gone, or I can go forward in the truth that My Father can be trusted…and what He says is true, and He doesn’t undo what He has done, and He is lifting me up. After all, He showed me, I am on His shoulders, and the beauty of it is, His shoulders are broad enough to carry all of us!