***Initially I wrote an additional post that was meant to come before this one, sharing briefly about the next 10 years following my conversion. But since it’s the holiday season and that post is more on the heavy side, I decided it would be better left out for now and saved for another time. And now, to conclude this series…***
When life gives you thorns, sometimes God will take them away when you ask Him to and sometimes He won’t…So what are we supposed to do when, like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, we beg God to take our thorns away and He says “Not yet”?
I’ve had to face this question more times than I can count, particularly in regards to the woman who abused me my whole life. When I was 20, the physical abuse stopped, and last year when I got married and had Walker to protect me, the majority of her other forms of abuse finally calmed down as well. But to this day some of that painful, lifelong thorn still remains, and I honestly don’t know if God will ever completely take it away during my lifetime.
For months I wrestled with this. I wrestled with why God promises all over the Bible to deliver His people from the wicked, but He was still letting my abuser slander me to so many people. I wrestled with why God promised to defend His people and silence the lies of the enemy, but continued to let new, awful lies about me spread. I wrestled with the Lord and with Scripture until I finally found the answer that carried me through the tempest and brought peace: Jesus had thorns too, and God didn’t take those away either. At least not this side of heaven.
When Jesus hung on the cross — beaten, bloody, slandered, abused, and utterly hated — He suffered thorns like nobody else in the world will every suffer. He never did a wrong thing in His life, and there He was, dying the worst kind of criminal’s death. But it got even worse, because He wasn’t just hanging there experiencing intense physical suffering that would eventually end, He was also carrying the debilitating, unbearable weight of every single sin on Himself. He experienced the worst pain of all, being forsaken by God. And as if these thorns were not enough, a crown of thorns was placed on His holy head as well…as if for good measure.
And Jesus had asked God to take this horrible cup of thorns away from Him, too! He prayed in anguish, sweating blood, but God didn’t take away His thorns. Not yet. Instead Jesus had to bear the thorns and endure the suffering until the very, very end…and only then was He delivered.
So what should I do when God doesn’t take away my thorns? I should look to Jesus and see what He did when God didn’t take away His.
Jesus trusted God, even though doing so meant suffering like nobody else will ever suffer.
Jesus prayed, begging God to take His thorns away, but He always came back to “but whatever You decide, Father. Your will is best. And no matter what You allow me to suffer, I will follow You. I will obey You. I will love you. I will be faithful until death.”
Jesus loved the unloveable.
Jesus thought of us.
Jesus never gave up.
Christ earned Heaven for us and learned what it was like to truly be us because He endured His thorns until the very end…and sometimes that is what’s going to happen to us, too. Sometimes the only way for us to be delivered from our thorns is to endure them until they’re finally over, fighting through even if it kills us. But the wonderful thing is that Jesus fights for us. He knows how hard our thorns are, and He knows about our deepest, most intense sufferings. He understands, not only because He knows every detail about our thorns, but because He has personally been there…and then some!
He knows how long our thorns will last…whether another day, week, year, or for our entire life on earth. But He also knows that regardless of God’s timetable, each and every one of His children will be delivered. Completely delivered. He will remove every thorn from every area of our lives, and He will completely heal us. Our faith will not be disappointed.
So, dear Christian, I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know the thorns that are wounding you, nor do I know how long they’ve been there or how long they will last. I don’t know the hundreds of times you’ve asked God to rescue you from something and yet haven’t seen Him answer. I could never fully understand your pain, nor give you the strength to endure it. But God knows, and God can. And if Jesus bore the heaviest thorns in all of history for our sake, then can’t we bear our thorns for His sake? Won’t He help us?
We can, and Christ will. Just never, ever give up ❤