"Thorns" are presented as a normal part of living. The first thorn appeared in Paradise when Adam and Eve had to decide to have faith in God and eat from the Tree of Life or listen to their hearts and eat from the Tree of Knowledge. After their "fall" God said that thorns would grow and would be a new addition to their world (Genesis 3:18). Literal thorns would grow in the grow and metaphorically thorns are be a part of our world.
These thorns originate in varying ways. God placed a thorn in Adam and Eve's life. It is the thorn of decision - to have faith in God or not. It was hard for Adam and Eve (read the opening verses of Genesis 3) and it is hard for us. Jesus taught the 12 and they had to try to understand. Jesus described them as hard hearted, dull and even little of faith (Matthew 14-15). The decision of faith is a "thorny" issue. Faith is an invisible entity (Hebrews 11:1). It requires believing in an invisible God and believing in a Savior we have not seen. For we humans, embracing an invisible reality is "thorny." It requires much of us to believe. Beyond belief itself God introduces "thorny" issues like telling Abram he would have a son when he was old and Sarai was barren (Romans 4). Read all of the trials Paul faced in 2 Corinthians 12 (especially his "thorn in the flesh). God's thorns are never sinful or a temptation to sin but they are indeed throny for us who choose to believe. Call them trials, hardships or sufferings but here I call them thorns. God issues them and if we are to see Him one day with them we must deal. Then there is the thorn of a "groaning" world and the thorns created by the Liar and people who live for him. Comments coming on those next. foree
Thursday, February 28, 2008
It is very interesting that "thorns" (problems, suffering, hardship, testing) are normal in the biblical presentation. Adam and Eve stood in the Garden awe stuck, I am sure, at having not been and then were. Their first view of the Paradise must have been awe inspiring. It was a perfect world without sin or the consequences of sin. It was not, however, free of hardship and testing. Their "thorn" was the decision to have faith in God and eat from the "tree of life" or ignore God and eat from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil." The first test or trial which caused suffering of spirit happened there, in Paradise. The story is told in Genesis 3 - Eve led the way wondering and thinking about the tree - it was pleasant to the eye and good for food and for gaining wisdom. Adam hung back, never said a word and he and Eve together failed the first test of scripture. It would be a repeatable scene. Over and over again thorns appear. Big ones, little ones, intense ones, short lived ones, but they appear. Each time the decision made about them is the most important point. It is not about the thorns themselves but what we humans do with them. Thorns are normal, they have been with us since the beginning. After the "fall" they would increase in significance and frequency. In the garden there was just one, in life there are many. They are just part of life. How we get through them is a matter of faith.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I just read Jenny Wimms latest report on Brad, a brother loved by many who is facing very serious health threats. "Thorns" are every where in this world of God's. They come in various intensities and sometimes last long, sometimes short lengths of time. Whatever kind of thorn we get, or face, it is serious and personal. Thorns are often difficult to extract and sometimes terminal. They are however part of this world which is no longer a paradise but a place marked by sin. That does not mean sin causes thorns (even though that can happen)it means thorns arrive because we live in a "groaning" world" as Paul said in Romans. Often thorns leave us without explanation and perhaps anger and discouragement. At these times what is left except faith and prayer. Years ago a friend of mine got stuck with cancer. His prayer in the process was to face it with faith. He said that was all he knew to say. Faith, that which sustains when thorns run deep, hurt badly and leave us weakened, not knowing what to do. Faith is not a small thing it is the only thing often when thorns persist and will not pull out.So we pray and ask God for help and strength and faith itself to face the unfaceable. That may not seem like much but it is all there is and it will be a lot when the final chapter is written on us all.