Such a small thing to cause so much pain. I had been planting raspberry stalks in my little garden. I freshened the dirt with new soil. My three year-old daughter helped me dig the holes. Then I gently placed each raspberry stalk. And no matter how delicate I was, those little thorns kept ending up in my skin.
While picking raspberries off my Grandma’s bushes as a child, I must have been so enamored with the berries going into my mouth that I don’t remember the thorns going into my skin. But this time without the berries to distract me, I was keenly aware of each little thorn. A sharp pain radiated through my body. I turned my eyes to look in the direction of the pain. And I saw the tiny perpetrator.
I am struck by how much pain can be caused by such a little thing. Some of the longest lasting pains are the little ones. Harsh words spoken years ago linger in my mind. Images of betrayal are set on constant rewind. My mind constantly replays mistakes I’ve made and what I could’ve, should’ve done differently. He didn’t mean to hurt me, but I still remember when he corrected the poem I had written for him. I didn’t intend to hurt her, but she felt judged by my words. He wanted to build me up, but his words tore me down.
It takes a lot of work to pull out these little thorns. Recognizing God’s work in my life helps replace bad memories with good ones. Sometimes I forget all about something, but then it pops back up in my memory at the most random times. Then, I have to ask for God’s help and pull it back out again.
Too bad all pains aren’t as easy to remove as pulling out a little raspberry thorn. What if I had a raspberry thorn that I couldn’t pull out? What if I could see it and feel the pain, but still could not get it out of my skin? We are told in 2 Corinthians that Paul had that such trouble. A thorn in his side that would not be removed:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Maybe, then, it would be too bad if all thorns were easy to remove. Paul experiences something that maybe thornless people don’t experience quite as deeply – God’s grace, gladness, Christ’s power, and delight. I want all of that! So, I guess, if you must, God, bring on those raspberry thorns so I can more joyfully experience your grace and power.
How can you delight in the thorns in your life?
Where have you seen God’s grace and power in your weaknesses?
For further information on InterVarsity, contact Jenny Klouse at email@example.com