Thorns In Your Side?

Hide and Go Seek was a common game played among me and my cousins.  Every time we would get together, we would have to play.  Playing in the dark was our favorite.  There was nothing like the mystery and difficulty of finding someone on a dark night.  Add in the factor the woods that sloped downhill from my home were not off limits.

There were only three of us – my cousins Chuck, Keri, and myself.  Keri was the youngest and she always hid with who ever was hiding.  She never hid by herself.  She always laughed a lot as well and always gave us away to the seeker. 

One moonlight night while playing, Chuck was ‘it.’  Keri and I took off down the hill in the woods.  Chuck searched all over the backyard.  Giving ourselves away, Keri started laughing.  What she was laughing at nobody knows to this day. 

Suddenly, Chuck barreled down the hill as fast as he could go.  Just as fast as he was running, he froze. He screamed out a huge yell which made our parents come outside to find what was the matter.  He had ran into ropes of briars.  There were huge thorns on vines which stretched from deep down into the ground where it was rooted all the way to the very top of a Georgia pine.  After an inspection of Chuck’s body, he had cuts and scrapes from head to toe.  It was a night I have never forgotten.

Paul knew some things about thorns.  At the end of Second Corinthians, he talked about a thorn being in his flesh.  Metaphorically, those living during his time and in his culture referred to personally opposition and trials as thorns of the flesh.  Oh, how many times have I heard sermons on Paul’s thorn in the flesh being taught differently!

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.—NIV

Paul understood this metaphor.   Every Jewish child grew up learning about the ‘thorns’ of the enemies and used the metaphor in describing one who had an ought against them.  Three times in the Old Testament, God described the enemies of Israel as thorns. In Numbers 33:5, God instructed Moses to drive our inhabitants of the land.  He told him that if they remained, they would become a sharp hook in Moses’ eye and thorns in his side.

“But if  you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.”  Numbers 33:55

Later, the Lord told Joshua the same thing.  He said the enemy would become a trap, whips on their backs, and thorns in their eyes until they died. 

“But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with the, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will not longer drive out these nations before you.  Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from his good land, which the Lord your God has given you.”  Joshua 23:12-13

Again, in Judges, an angel warned the Israelites what was to come due to their disobedience.

“The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give your forefathers. I said, “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their alters.’  You you have disobeyed me.  Why have you done this?  Now therefore I tell you that I will drive them out before you: they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.  Judges 2:1-3

My pastor, Doug Brown, was a missionary during the eighties in South America.  He told me about how homes are constructed with large walls to keep thieves and law breakers out and keep peace in the homes.  On top of the twenty to sometimes twenty five foot walls, broken bottles turned upside down would be built into the wall so anyone climbing would get to the top and get seriously cut.  Great measures are taken to keep people out and security in.

Today, many people are like these homes.  On the contrary, the homes with these walls with broken bottles atop are people who are seriously in pain and hurting.  Those on the outside are those who are getting cut, stabbed, and left for dead on the outside. Hurt people hurt people.

Thorns left in the sides of people are usually placed there by people who are protecting themselves.  They are seriously fighting not to get hurt again.  There are abandon children who are now a grown adults ravaged from the pain of an absent parent.  There are emotionally battered divorcees who were taken out to the ringer by their ex-spouses.  Someone was once in a relationship and he told her there was definitely a future but suddenly it was destroyed by “the other woman.”  A so-called best friend turned on his friend over something simple and they haven’t spoken in years.  Issues as these cause a lot of pain. There is nothing like it. Pain taken to the extreme makes anyone not want to go through it again.  Walls are constructed. People are kept out.  To that person who begins to appear in the same position as the one who hurts them, out comes the thorns and they hurt. Again, hurt people hurt people.

Those walls of thorns are not just built from pain and hurt.  Jealousness has built many a walls as well as enviousness and misunderstanding.  Like my cousin experience, it is in the dark and the thorns have already caused pain before you realize that they are stuck in your flesh. 

Paul in the New Testament had a storm in his life – a thorn in his flesh.  

He inquired of the Lord 3 times, “MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT for you!”

The thorn in his flesh and your flesh was conquered on the cross when they pressed the crown of thorns on his head. 

Tell yourself “I have got the power to make it!”

The Blood of Jesus is protecting you from every attack of the enemy.  

Not everyone is for you.  

Not everyone will root for you. 

Not everyone will rejoice with you but don’t overreact!!!

If God’s hand is on you, there is nothing anyone can do about it. 

Haters are going to hate.

They are not gonna like it. 

They don’t have to endorse it. 

They can close their eyes and not watch it. 

Regardless of what anyone thinks if God is for you, who or what can be against you!

They killed your name privately but God is about to honor your name publicly!

Everything you are going thru God has allowed so He can get glory and make you better in the process. 

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