“George Matheson, the well-known blind preacher of Scotland once said, ‘My dear God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses but not once for my thorns. I have always looked forward to the place where I will be rewarded for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as a present glory itself.
“‘Teach me, O lord, to glory in my cross. Teach me the value of my thorns. Show me how I have climbed to You through the path of pain. Show me it is through my tears I have seen my rainbow.'”*
I sat curled up on the sofa’s end, coffee cup in hand on that chilly April morning. Quiet time with Jesus is my favorite time of day. I held Streams in the Desert next to my Bible, its pages dog-eared and underlined with scribbled notes in margins after years of repeated use.
And yet the words of this sweet devotional spoke fresh to me again that morning.
I realized I had not thanked the Lord for my thorns.
It had not occurred to me that these thorns — the broken places in my life the past few years — could be a blessing in my journey with the Lord.
Paul said, “In everything give thanks because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I’ve tried to apply this principle to my life because the Lord requests it, but the thorns? The thorns that stab and prick and make my heart bleed?
Not so much.
I’ve often thanked the Lord for being with me during these times and for the blessings of provision and protection and grace in the difficult places.
But I haven’t thanked Him for the specific thorns.
George Matheson said, “Lord, teach me the value of my thorns.”
The value …
of thorns …
Have you ever thought about why roses have thorns? I looked it up.
Roses have thorns to protect the flower from predators. The sweet aroma draws a predator to the rose, but the thorns prevent it from being devoured. Like the rose, we have a sweet aroma too — the sweet aroma of Christ. Our predator — the enemy of our soul — is definitely drawn to the aroma.
Maybe George Matheson recognized that too.
That somehow in God’s wisdom and providence, the thorns in our lives draw us so close to God’s Presence as we cling to Him, the enemy is kept at bay from devouring us.
Jesus wore thorns — a crown of thorns. They were placed on His head as a painful mockery of His Kingship.
But those thorns were part of His identification with MY thorns — the result of a sinful, fallen world. He sees my suffering. He knows my pain. He sees and knows yours too.
Our thorns have value.
*L. B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 147.