through the path of pain we encounter God

“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.’” *

Through the Path of Pain I Found Jesus

Streams in the Desert lay open next to my Bible, its pages dog-eared and underlined, with scribbled notes in margins after years of repeated use. This is my eighth year pouring over these life-changing words, and yet this sweet devotional spoke fresh to me again this morning. I had to ask myself, “Why should I thank God for my thorns?”

It had not occurred to me that these thorns — the broken places in my life — could be a blessing in my journey with the Lord. How could I find God’s presence through the path of pain?

through the path of pain I found Jesus

Paul said, “In everything give thanks because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In everything.

Give thanks.

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? Thankful for the painful, broken places?

Not so much.

I’ve often thanked the Lord for being with me during the hard 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. If anything, I considered that the thorns were from the enemy of my soul.

Thorns Have Value

But, George Matheson said, “Lord, teach me the value of my thorns.”

The value …

of thorns …

MY thorns.

Have you ever thought about why roses have thorns? I looked it up.

through the path of pain I found Jesus

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 drawn to the aroma.

Maybe George Matheson recognized that too.

Somehow in God’s wisdom and providence, the thorns in our lives draw us close to God’s presence as we cling to Him, keeping the enemy at bay from devouring us. The thorns allow us to encounter the Lord through our path of pain in ways otherwise impossible.

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.

Through the Path of Pain I Learned Immeasurable Love

So why should I thank God for my thorns? Because my thorns — those desperate times of brokenness — have taught me of His immeasurable love. They draw His compassion and mercy to me.

Through my path of pain, I have found the Lord.

The world can’t take that away.


*L. B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 147.


Thank you so much for stopping by. I would love for you to share what’s on your heart in the comments below. Scroll a little farther down and you’ll see where you can leave your comments. Together, we can find the nearness of God in our darkest moments.

Sweet blessings to you,