When the roses are in full bloom, I tend to linger along the garden path. I stop to admire the intricate design of the beautiful petals and smell their soothing scent. Immediately, I feel a sense of calm and peace.
While roses are beautiful to behold, handling them is another thing. Their prickly thorns pierce fingers and cause sharp pain. I’ve often wondered why beautiful flowers like roses need these prickly thorns.
Judges chapters two and three describes the children of Israel taking possession of the Promised Land. Though they conquered many cities, they did not conquer all. Why?
The unconquered territories were set aside by God to test if the Israelites would be faithful and obey His commands like their ancestors. Another reason they did not conquer all the nations was because God planned to use them to teach warfare to the descendants of Israel who had not had previous battle experience (Judges 3:2).
Roses and their prickly thorns are a metaphor for life. The conquered territories are like roses while the unconquered cities represent prickly thorns to challenge the Israelites and train them in warfare.
Most of us live beautiful lives, but they are often peppered with thorns. These thorns serve to remind us of our weaknesses. Thorns are designed to draw us closer to God because we are not in control.
Paul also had a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Many times he asked the Lord to remove the thorn. God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s thorn kept him humble and fully reliant on the Lord every day of his life.
As I reflect on these stories, I imagine what my life would be like without thorns. Probably, I’d take life for granted and my life would become a dull routine. In reality, the times when I’ve had no major struggles are often marked by complacency and inefficiency.
However, when the heat is turned up and I encounter prickly thorns, they cause me to be humble and to embrace my inadequacies and insecurities. These thorns motivate me to depend on God through prayer, reading his Word, and being in fellowship with other believers.
Thorns are God’s instruments for shaping me into His likeness in the divine school of character molding.
What are your thorns? In what way is God using your thorns to mold your character to be like Him?