June 20

Thorns, Part 2

Judges 2:21-23 “I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.

Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.

II Corinthians 12:7-9a And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

There are other reasons God has allowed—or even placed—thorns in our lives than what we read about yesterday. We see at the end of Judges 2 that while disobedience to God’s covenant may be a reason the “enemies” are in “our land,” God uses their presence to test us, to see if we will “keep the ways of the Lord.” This is a purifying element in our lives. This isn’t simply a matter of pass/fail, as happens with academic tests. This is to make us stronger, to strengthen our side of our covenant with the Lord, to grow our character.

While we learn to resist temptation and grow in His grace, He also uses their presence to teach us to war spiritually. To grow at all in Christ, we must learn who our enemy is, how he fights, and how God wages war. (Psalm 18 is an encouraging read on this topic.) We need to learn to be comfortable with His authority over our enemy, and what our part is in that warfare

Lastly, Paul’s experience tells us another reason for the presence of a thorn. It was given “lest [Paul] become exalted above measure.” When Paul sought the Lord about it, he was given another reason to infer its presence: to learn how powerful God’s grace could be, and that our weakness with God’s strength is more than enough to meet any challenge.

No one likes thorns, no matter why they are there. But they point us powerfully to our Savior. We want Him to be our Deliverer, and ultimately, He wants that too. But having a thorn can be uncomfortable enough to rouse us from our spiritual stupor, always a good thing. In seeking the Lord, we press in closer to Him. We need to listen to Him as to why the thorn might be there. It might be one of the three reasons talked about today and yesterday. Or it might be something else entirely. God knows.

Lacking that, we can always ask for wisdom for how to respond. Since He gives liberally and without reproach (James 1:5), we can always count on receiving that wisdom as we wait on Him. Thorns aren’t fun. The gold is in seeking Him about them.

Prayer: Father, I want to know why my thorns are still here. I trust that You know what You’re doing, and if I’m not in a place where I can receive and understand Your wisdom, then please show me what You’d like me to do about them right now. Thank You!


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