I love roses. Any color, any size, any rose. From the time I see one budding to the unfolding of the petals that seem to be opening to praise God, I love them. There is one thing I don’t love about them, though; the thorns.
While reading my little devotional recently, I ran across a little story about a man named George Matheson. Like most of you, I don’t know him. I understand he was a blind preacher in Scotland. He was overheard one day telling God that he had thanked Him thousands of times for all the blessings and answered prayers and protection and all that God had done that made him happy – the things he considered ‘roses’ in his life, but at no time did he thank God for the thorns.
He said he was looking forward to a world where he would be compensated for the cross he bore here on earth, but he never thought of his cross as a present glory from God. He prayed for God to show him the glory of his cross and the value of his thorn. He prayed for God to show him how he climbed to God through the pathway of his pain and how his tears had made his rainbows.
There are many times I have asked God, “Why?” I thought I could never thank Him for the depression or the anxiety or my constant failures. I thought the low opinion I had for myself could never be used for good in God’s Kingdom. I thought I could bear it as He asked me to, but never be truly thankful.
God has miraculously brought me to the place where I can see that He is always faithful and has been my Guide each and every day of my life. He knows every detail about me and the path necessary for me – the path that has led me to know Him in a way I am thoroughly convinced I would never know Him as I do without the pain – without the thorns.
Today I can thank Him for all the pain I have endured, my learning disabilities, my past depression, my past agoraphobia, and even my present anxieties and shortcomings because they keep me connected to Him by reminding me each and every day that I need Him more than I need to take my next breath. How easily I forget sometimes when the thorn is not with me.
The truth is I wish it did not take things that are difficult or painful or sad to make me connect to Him, but He knows how we are as humans. I have others ask me, “Why?” as often as I asked. I do not peddle easy answers to difficult questions, but I always say, “Make your pain your pathway to God.” He will be our Everything in everything.
God leads us down every path of our lives and is with us always. His Name is Emmanuel.
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