Here is an interesting enigma. Did God create the rose bush without thorns or add them after the sin of Adam and Eve? He said that the ground would produce thorns and thistles and that Adam would have burdensome toil to get food. (Gen 3:17-18) However, isn’t it so like our heavenly Father to still leave grace even in the midst of judgment and consequences? Thorns are hard and sharp and metaphorically represent irritation, trouble and discomfort. Whereas roses represent beauty and aroma which God in His grace left for mankind to enjoy. (I am still searching for something good to say about thistles.)

The Apostle Paul struggled mightily with his “thorn in the flesh,” and pleaded three times for the Lord to take it away from him. (2 Cor 12:7) Instead God answered, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” The scriptures are not totally clear on what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but many scholars believe it was his eyes. (Col. 4:18P (Gal 6:11) He wrote the Galatians that “even thought my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn.” (Gal. 4:13-14) I wonder if Paul thought often of the crown of thorns that Jesus was made to wear in addition to his many other tortures? (Jo 19:2, 5) (Mt 27:29) (Mk 15:17)

Jesus warned future disciples that we would also have trouble and persecution because of the word. (Mt 13:21) (Jo 16:33) However, we sometimes have our own “thorn in the flesh” outside of contending for the faith. (Jude 3) I had not even considered this until my recent thorn of skin cancer. Like Paul, I am grateful that the wonderful brethren here have continued to love and not scorn me because of my “unsightly” appearance. I pray that the Lord’s power will be made perfect through my weakness.

Jim Bailey