Bible Society of South Africa
Benescke Janse van Rensburg

Fearlessly forward – Day 16

Fearlessly forward despite thorns

Bible text(s)

7But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. 8Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. 9But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9GNBOpen in Bible reader

[Some time ago one of our readers wrote: “Why does it take so long for God to answer my prayers? I’ve been divorced for 8 years and been praying for almost as long for someone to love and someone who will love me. Also, someone who loves God and who will be good to my two sons. Do I pray in the wrong way? It sometimes feels as if God has forgotten about me.”]

What is the thorn or thorns in your life today? For the above-mentioned reader, her thorn is loneliness. I’m sure the thorn especially hurts when she sees a happy couple, hears about a friend who has met a good man or when her two sons find themselves in situations where they need a father figure for guidance and support.

Thorns in our lives are not always negative. Sometimes it is all we need to keep us on our knees close to God. Paul realised it. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 he wrote: “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.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Sometimes God quickly removes the thorns in our lives by giving the lonely a spouse, by curing a disease or turning an unbelieving spouse or child’s life around. Other times it takes longer. And sometimes, like with Paul, God never removes the thorn because it serves a specific purpose and keeps us close to God.

Am I saying that God will never remove the readers’ thorn of loneliness — or your thorn? Absolutely not. God is on a unique journey with each of us. He knows what we can handle and what not, and He also knows the exact right time to remove thorns. Thorns drive us to kneel before God again so that we can experience His power and presence. It enables us to hear His voice again. When we therefore continue to stay close to Him, we will experience how the thorns that initially left us with tears of frustration, turn into monuments of everlasting memories with God, because He is constantly close to us in difficult moments.

Our time on earth is short. It is an opportunity to get to know our Creator more intimately as we strive to become more like Jesus. Let us therefore praise God — whether He removes the thorns or not. If we can do that, we are truly free. God bless.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.14.1
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