Thorns

There are some days when I think, “You know, this day would have been better had I simply stayed in bed.” Such was my thought early this evening. Let me disavow you of the notion that simply because this blog is called Daily Thankful that it means that I’m happy all of the time. Like you, I have my struggles and burdens, and some days are harder than others. Today was such a day.

The day started out ordinarily enough. In retrospect, I can see that the Lord gave me a bit of warning with the Bible verses that I reviewed this morning (several passages in Psalm 73 stand out to me), because an hour later, I thought to myself, “Boy, am I glad that I read Psalm 73 today.”

I received some disappointing news this morning. Nothing life-changing or earth-shattering, but disappointing nonetheless. I think, because I was busy doing something else and wasn’t actively contemplating the matter, that the news caught me by surprise more than it might have done otherwise. I have learned to be leery of the unexpected, unscheduled phone call, but since I was in a decent mood, I decided to take the call anyway.

Here’s the thing about disappointment: It has a way of highlighting the expectations that we’ve placed on a particular outcome to a situation, even if we have not consciously done so. In our minds, hearts, and prayers, we expect that things will turn out differently, and when things do not go as planned, we are devastated all the more.

I had my moment – a few tears were shed, but in hindsight, I now recognize that those tears marked a sense of finality and closure on a situation that had been lingering in the back of my mind for some time. I gave myself a moment to process what I had heard, and then resumed what I was doing before the call came.

Grief is a powerful emotion – no matter how (seemingly) small the loss. Whether or not you lose a loved one, a job, some money, a relationship, or simply some peace of mind (as I had done for a portion of today), the process is much the same. There is a sense of emotional disquiet and then eventually one moves to the place of acceptance. However, this process can vary in length and quality, depending on the person and/or circumstance.

When you’ve carried something for a long time, it becomes part of you. And then, suddenly, when the situaiton is resolved (especially in a way that is different than your expectations), there can be a  profound sense of loss – even when the finality of the situation is ultimately for your benefit.

This is how it was with me. Upon further reflection, I recognized that what happened was the most loving and gracious thing that the Lord could have permitted in my life. After many seasons of holding onto this painful thorn, He finally prized it out of my hands and allowed me to be free of it. However, I had been so accustomed to holding onto it that I was utterly bewildered at first when I realized that the thorn was gone.

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It occurred to me that this image is a metaphor for the Christian journey overall. Here we are, holding onto the things that wound us, and the Lord gently, yet lovingly, orchestrates the events in our lives so that the thorn can be removed. In some cases, He allows us to hand it over; in other instances, He intervenes more dramatically and removes it for us, because He recognizes the long-term havoc that deeply-embedded thorns can wreak in our lives.

That’s why I was so far grateful for Psalm 73 – a powerful passage of Scripture if ever there was one. For a few moments, my heart failed, and so did my flesh; thankfully, though, my source of strength does not come from me, and there is another Source upon Whom I can rely when things get shaky.

Things got shaky today. And that’s okay.

And now – more than twelve hours after I first got the news – I’m okay. Not great, not fantastic, but okay. God is in the process recharging my heart right now, and I anticipate being back up to (nearly) 100%, Lord willing, quite soon. After all, when we hold onto thorn, the sharp edges puncture the skin, and it takes time for the wounds to heal. Thankfully, though, thorns create surface wounds only, and they usually heal quickly.

Spritually speaking, what happened today was a surface wound that will heal in short order – in fact, the restoration process has already begun. Why? Well, mostly because I recognize that my strength does not come from within myself. I am not willing myself to be better or do better, because willpower is not the answer. I simply had to step back from my situation and say, “Lord, You allowed this to happen, and I believe that You are sovereign over all things. Therefore, You have some purpose in this. I’m going to choose to trust You and Your good purposes, rather than what I’m feeling right now.” And I’ve had to repeat this to myself several times today.

Things have gotten better. I immersed myself in a project earlier this evening that required my complete focus, and I was able to make a lot of progress – that was very satisfying. I also spent some time with my mother (and accompanied her to a meeting at her church, so that she would not have to drive there by herself; in doing so, I enjoyed a resetting of my perspective – a much-needed reality check of sorts.

There is still good in the world, and if I remember that the Lord is my strength and portion – rather than me – then I’m going to be just fine.

And I am. Just fine. Not great, not fantastic, but just fine. That’s a reason to be grateful, no?

Dear Lord, what a whirlwind today has been! Thank You for bringing me through it (relatively) unscathed, and for the encouragement that I received from Your Word. 

I fully release the aforementioned situation to You now. It is in the past. Thank You for removing the thorn, and I praise You in advance for the healing that You are already orchestrating in my life.

Finally, thank You for resetting my perspective this evening, so that I can focus my time on that which truly matters, rather than the things that only seem to be important. The difference is subtle, but significant.

In Your name I pray, Amen.

12 thoughts on “Thorns

  1. It is difficult letting go and is hard to do.

    I just ask the Lord to bless me to concentrate on something else instead of the hurt. Sometimes He does, sometimes He does not.

    I applaud you on your progress.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Scott. Without going into details, sometimes things happen to us that are wrong. We hope that others will view the situation similarly, but sometimes they do not.

      In this experience, I’ve come to better differentiate between tbe wisdom of man vs. the wisdom of God; the Bible is replete with stories of how the wisdom of man frequently conflicts with the wisdom of God, yet the Lord in His sovereignty is able to use the foolishness of man in order to accomplish His purposes.

      So rather than dwell on the disappointment, I am choosing to move on from it. After all, I cannot expect broken people in a broken world, who are not seeking the will of God in their lives (so far as I can tell) to see the world and my circumstances as I do.

      Have I made the matter clear as mud yet?? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It must have been going around today, my friend. But as always God works it out. I’m not proud of some of my actions today. I was not patient, and I did get angry. But once I stopped, and just gave it up to Him, things started to fall into place. There is still more that will have to be dealt with, as the situation isn’t completely resolved but He will take care of it. He always does. This post is no coincidence for me, I am so happy you wrote this today. It is a reinforcement to me of His wondrous ability to handle all. God Bless you :):)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Once again, Margaret, I am struck afresh by the numerous ways in which our lives and spiritual journeys seem to be similar. Thank you so much for sharing your “thorn” story! It gives me great encouragement to read how the Lord is actively at work in your life – I must remember that He’s doing the same for me as well!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Bless you. I know very well about the thorns and especially about the letting go. Letting go is very painful. Even though I desperately and truly want to let go and I’ve prayed for a long time for God to help me let go, he hasn’t. He has his reason and purpose even though I don’t understand, I know he is in control and I just tell him I trust him. Prayers to you

    Liked by 2 people

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