walk of faith

The thorn that nobody wanted yet remained

The past few weeks, I’ve been praying the hardest to God for rescue. There is a thorn in my heart that has been there since the beginning of this year. And to this day, I do not know how to handle it. I earnestly prayed to God that He takes it away immediately. Months went by and God has given me constant encouragement, but nonetheless, the splinter has sunk deep in my core. I’ve asked a million times why He’d allow me to carry such thing for so long, but all He tells me is to seek Him more.

At first, I thought this thorn could easily be overlooked like all the other thorns that had come my way. Perhaps if I do not pay attention to it, it would disappear. However, this one is different; it doesn’t only scratch the surface but crushes the walls and goes far beyond what I can bear. I’d go back to grieving to God again about the pain. For some reason, His purpose became harder to grasp. While He keeps me waiting, I pressed on asking this same question: “I was okay before this, God, but now I live the days enduring the hurt. Why would you want me to have this?

 

I am to wait and trust the promise, not wait and suspect the promise.

 

An unfulfilled desire, a craving, a longing – whatever we call it – is a kind of thorn that involves waiting, surrendering and trusting. For some, this yearning could be a promotion at work, a financial breakthrough or physical healing. For others, restoration of marriage, reconciliation among friends, comfort for the mourning, or gift of having a life partner.

In whatever life stage you’re at, the waiting gets tough especially if you’ve waited long enough to feel forgotten. I bet you’ve asked at one point if God has changed His mind about you. That maybe it’s wise to make a backup plan just in case God couldn’t meet you where you are right now. I did question God’s direction for my life, but then I was reminded that nothing could ever be wrong with God. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

I am to wait and trust the promise, not wait and suspect the promise.

Like Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, God wants me to call this inexpressible yearning as ‘painful sweetness’. It’s the kind of weakness that draws you nearer to God, the one that makes you plead for mercy every day and rejoice despite your appeals to heavens that are seemingly unheard.

 

While I am lamenting about this single splinter tearing my flesh, Someone wore a crown of thorns on his head for me.

 

What I’ve learned about this season is that waiting enriches your life of prayer. When everything is uncertain, prayer is the anchor that establishes your heart in the right disposition before the holy and mighty God. It makes you see everything in the lens of His goodness and power. Prayer dissolves the thousand other things you’ve been entertaining in your mind and sets your focus back to God. It turns your sorrowful heart into a place of worship and praise, and begs God to be the center of your life again.

Perhaps, I was praying the wrong prayers when I talked to God about this thorn. The undefinable desire made me feel like an essential part of me was missing, that I’m not complete without it. (James 4:3) How many times have I reminded God that I have a timeline to follow, a script to act out and other roles to play? I lost count, to be honest.

While I am lamenting about this single splinter tearing my flesh, Someone wore a crown of thorns on his head for me. He spared me from the ultimate pain that I could possibly suffer: an eternity apart from God. Maybe God doesn’t honor my petitions because they were too focused on my whenshows and whys instead of fixing my eyes on the Who.

And that Who is Jesus.

 

When Jesus gives me a thorn in the flesh, He is showing me a glimpse of what He had to go through to win my love. He is sharing with me the joy of suffering well.

 

If you ever feel like you’ve forgiven many times and yet people hurt you again and again, look at Jesus. Jesus was betrayed by His disciples who professed to follow Him but He loved them lavishly still. If you ever feel like you’ve proven yourself well enough and yet people judge you, didn’t Jesus suffer the same? He did not once open his mouth when He was dying a death He did not deserve. If you ever feel like you’ve loved deep enough and yet people reject you, remember Jesus saved the same people who persecuted Him. If you ever feel like you’ve worked hard enough and yet people do not choose you, wasn’t Jesus raised from the dead yet many still, until today, doubt?

When Jesus gives me a thorn in the flesh, He is showing me a glimpse of what He had to go through to win my love. He is sharing with me the joy of suffering well. The same goes for you, too. If today you feel that thorn in your heart, maybe God is telling you to persevere in the office even when nobody looks, and to work excellently even when you are tired. Maybe God is asking you to continue to hope and dream even when your sickness is getting worse, and to see the delight of your daily dependence on Him. Maybe God is teaching you to love without any expectations, to love even when there is a risk of not being loved back.

If you were given a thorn, I pray that you ask God for sustenance instead of deliverance. I hope that you open your eyes to what Jesus had experienced on the cross, along with the realization that when you received His salvation and promise, you are bound to carry your cross daily, too. You will be victorious, for what grace has started, grace will finish. (Philippians 1:6)

It’s all going to be worth the wait.

 

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