“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)
On certain holidays and occasions— such as Thanksgiving, New Years Eve or a milestone birthday—many of us will take some kind of mental inventory of the past and assess what went wrong, what went right and all the ways God has blessed us. However, we sometimes forget that we are to thank God for everything, not only the things we like or feel thankful for (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We can take no credit for thanking God for the easy and pleasant things.
George Matheson, a Scottish minister and hymn writer who lived from 1842 to 1906, once wrote:
“My God, I have never thanked thee for my thorn. I have thanked thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Thou divine Love, whose human path has been perfected through sufferings, teach me the glory of my cross, teach me the value of my thorn.”
This month, as we observe Holy Week and remember Jesus’ sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection, let us reflect on the thorns He bore for us. It’s important to note that the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head between the time of His flogging and the crucifixion was not only physically painful but it was also degrading—a symbol of mockery.
Philippians 2:1-11 paints a beautiful picture of Jesus’ humility and strength in “becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (v. 8) Jesus had the power and authority to refuse the thorns in His life. But He endured them, and He will help us endure our thorns, which pale in comparison to His.
Perhaps you’ve had people lash out at you, not because of anything you’ve done but because of their own issues, or you’ve faced medical problems that seemed to come from nowhere. Perhaps you’ve had responsibilities get dumped on you when you felt like your burden was already too heavy.
If you can look at a difficult situation and praise God for allowing it to be part of your life, you will turn that hardship into a blessing! This month, take time to thank God for your thorn and see how your heart changes as a result. (And read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 to see how the Apostle Paul dealt with his thorn.)
[adapted from a devotional in my book Restore My Soul]