We all have our thorns.
Something which digs into us 24/7 (well, almost.) Something which we feel keeps us from being perfectly happy. Something which is at the very top of our prayer list, over which we spend the most time frowning in prayer.
Maybe we think our greatest need is emotional fulfilment, better relationships; we pray desperately for God to give us a husband, a wife, like-minded friends, a stable family etc...
Or maybe we have other thorns--wanting success, stability, affirmation. Or that difficult person, difficult situation. Please God kick this out of my life, put that in.
To digress to a different analogy, we tend to see life as ice cream. Smooth. Sweet. And we have no idea why it has these dirty pebbles--pebbles have no business to be in ice cream!--of trouble, spoiling our nice plate of ice cream. Eeeurgh!
What if life isn't meant to be ice cream? What if the pebbles are part of what it is?
Perhaps we need to realize that our thorns, which seem the most important things in our eyes, may not be the most important thing in God's eyes. Like the lame man at the Gate Beautiful, asking for alms when complete healing, complete recovery, was just in front of him.
What we're praying hardest for now--does it really matter? Is it really what we need, as much as we think we do?
The thorns themselves, I'm learning to see, are not what we should be agonising over. Gene Edward Veith speculated: 'That there can be no meaningful story without a conflict of some kind is worth contemplating. If, as [William] Kilpatrick suggests, our lives are actually a story (whose author and finisher is Christ), then our own conflicts may well be necessary for our lives to be meaningful.' (Reading Between the Lines) Just as stories need conflict to be meaningful, Kilpatrick suggests that our lives, as Christians, are meaningful because of the conflict we experience. These conflicts change us, just as stories change characters. These conflicts bring about revelations and choices, just as they do in stories. These conflicts create meaning--not in a sadistic, horribly impersonal and unfeeling way; not any more than a writer can be considered sadistic for writing a tragedy, or accused of being unfeeling towards his characters because he puts conflict in their lives. (as a writer, I think I feel more for my characters than any reader possibly could, and so I can't allow that as a possibility!)
Back to the thorns.
Perhaps I should be praying, not simply that God will take away whatever it is which is making life difficult for me, but rather that He will open my eyes and heart to learn from it.
That a thorn-free life is not what we were called to, though we wait to experience it in Heaven.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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