It is a tried-and-true yard classic, well-known for its hardiness, versatility, and beauty, and although most varieties lack a showy flower, the colorful, vibrant foliage more than compensates for that. Barberries are stunning in color, low in maintenance, and uniform in their growth pattern, but this lovely traditional plant has one glaring drawback. A barberry sports small, sharp, piercing thorns, so many thorns that in some communities that plant is now banned due to its invasive nature. When left to grow unhindered, the barberry will dominate large tracts of real estate, overwhelming any plant in its path. I personally despise trimming our barberry shrubs, those tiny thorns can inflict much pain. But thorns also serve a valuable purpose.
Most of us are familiar with the passage in 2 Corinthians where Paul speaks of his personal thorn, “…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…” Paul was given some unspoken annoyance or disability, some hindrance that he asked God three times to remove. This was not unique to Paul, for other Bible characters have also suffered from thorns. Isaac’s “eyes were dim,” Jacob “halted upon his thigh,” Timothy endured “stomach” infirmities, and although we are not privy to Paul’s specific issue, we are told that it was “given to him by God.” The thorn was a gift, a strange gift, but nonetheless, a gift, hand-crafted for Paul by his Creator.
The first mention of thorns in Scripture is in Genesis, chapter 3, where Adam is told by God that, as a result of willful disobedience and sin, the ground which had previously been effortlessly fruitful for Adam, would be cursed, ”Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” Adam was to reap thorns, thorns that would constantly remind him not only of the destructive consequences of sin, but also of his utter dependence upon God’s promise of the “seed of the woman,” the One Who would conquer that sin and destroy the curse. Every time he saw, or was pained by, those thorns, he would remember. Those thorns served a purpose.
Sometimes God gives thorns, not as punishment, but as gifts, gifts to keep us humble, dependent, and usable. Those thorns can be prickly and painful, yet at the same time purposeful, put in our lives as a constant reminder that we are wholly dependent on our Father. Know this, as painful as your thorn may be, it is a gift, hand-chosen for your benefit by a Father Who loves and cherishes you, and His grace is sufficient to carry You.
II Corinthians 10:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure…there was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…
Lord, there are thorns in my life that I don’t understand, thorns that I would prefer to have removed, but I know that YOU have a purpose. Use those thorns to draw me closer to You, to make me more dependent on You. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient for me.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-1424-62b687acf017a' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=1424&origin=wordpress.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-1424-62b687acf017a' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-1424-62b687acf017a' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>