The day Adam and Eve sinned, they were marked with a curse of hardship, thorns, and death. And this curse spread to each of us…
Have you wondered why Christians suffer? If Christ rescued us from sin’s curse, why do we still experience pain and hardship?
In part one of this article series, The Curse of Thorns and the Crown of Thorns, I share how thorns are a picture of sin’s curse. Christ wore the crown of thorns to demonstrate how He took our curse on Himself.
In part two, Thorns of Sin in the Life of a Rose, I explain why Christians still sin and how we can depend on Christ.
In this final article on thorns, we will be looking at Thorns of Suffering in the Life of a Rose.
Our natural, human response is to avoid hardship, but as long as we have breath, suffering will affect us. Whatever your thorn may be, whether it is loss, illness, need, a natural disaster, sorrow, betrayal, grief, or persecution, all suffering is uncomfortable, painful, and at times, confusing. How are we to respond to trials as daughters of our King?
The Big Question
When trials come, many Christians are shocked and confused. Doubt and fear overwhelm them. Soon, one who was once confident in Christ begins asking, “Is God even there?”
Suffering can quickly turn us away from Christ, destroying our faith.
But God has a different plan.
As God’s children we don’t need to remain confused. We can ask our Father why.
God will never reject us when we come to Him. He can handle our anger, our sorrow, and our confusion. Be honest about your feelings. Tell God, “I’m discouraged,” or “I’m upset.” Ask Him “why?”
Dear Rose, if you are facing hardship right now, allow your heavenly Father to comfort you and gently show you His perspective for your life. He will answer you.
Let Yourself Grieve
Rose, it’s okay to cry.
Christ Himself cried, grieved, and even asked for the cup of suffering to pass from Him.
However, in His sorrow Jesus had a heavenly perspective, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
It is okay to grieve loss and to feel sad or confused. We don’t have to pretend we are unaffected by hardships. Jesus wept too. Rather, when we are weak we must depend on Jesus and receive His strength to endure suffering with joy like His.
Christ gives hope and healing that we cannot experience without Him. Ask Him to give you this heavenly perspective, He will be your Guide and Comforter through your sorrow and grief.
God never promised a Christian life free from hardship. In fact, Christ promises just the opposite, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Trials are to be expected. Christians are not exempt from hardship.
God did not even spare His own Son from suffering. Christ wore the Crown of Thorns to say, “I bore your pain and sorrow too.” He is our Comforter and Sympathiser as well as our Savior.
Suffering Can Be Used by God
What is the point of suffering? Can it really be “worked out for our good?” Rather than becoming discouraged, see suffering as a season for joy-filled growth.
When a gardener prunes a tree all its energy is concentrated on root growth and core strength. Unnecessary branches, suckers, and diseased or broken branches are cut away.
Pruning shows that the gardener cares for the health and strength of the tree. In the same way, Jesus often cultivates and nourishes our souls through the most pain-filled seasons of our lives.
You are a Rose among Thorns, dear one. Allow suffering to grow you, not defeat you. Hardship is actually a gift!
How are We to Respond?
Let’s learn from Paul.
“…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7b-9
First, Paul pleaded for his suffering to be removed, because he knew that God is sovereign. However, God allowed hardship to remain for Paul.
Second, Paul listened to God. God gave grace and Paul witnessed God’s power in his own weakness.
When God allows us to keep suffering we have the opportunity to step back and ask, “Why? What is God saying? What does He want from me?”
His tender voice answers, “Depend on Me, My dear child. My grace is sufficient and My power is displayed. Rejoice, for only when you are weak can you depend on Me alone.”
What if we responded to suffering with rejoicing? That would change everything!
“We are grieved with many trials…and yet we greatly rejoice, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:6-8
(See also Matt 5:11-12, 1 Peter 4:12-13, 2 Corinthians 7:4, James 1:2-4)
God’s power to heal or take suffering away is only a glimpse of His glorious might. When we enter trials we experience another aspect of His power that we would miss without the pain.
Rejoicing doesn’t come naturally to our flesh, but as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, our heart can respond with joy and peace.
- We can rejoice in suffering because we look forward to seeing His glory revealed.
“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13
Rejoicing immediately changes our perspective. We take the focus off ourselves and off our negative situation and begin to worship instead.
- Suffering grows us to be like Jesus.
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.” Philippians 3:10
Suffering is like pruning. We can rejoice because we look forward to health and growth. Christ gives us an amazing hope and joy that we could not experience without Him.
- We rejoice because we are not alone. We suffer with Christ.
“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:17
We will always be with Him, and will share the joy of His glory in heaven. We can rest in His Forever Faithfulness. (See also 1 Peter 4:13, Romans 8:18-19)
Despite trials, we have confidence that one day the Curse of Thorns will be dispelled once and for all. Christ will wipe away our every tear, and suffering will no longer be able to touch us.
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him.” Revelation 22:3
Christ will bring us to Himself and we will be eternally free from this land of thorns.
I am looking forward to rejoicing side by side with you Rose; our hearts and bodies healed from every illness, hardship, and sorrow.
What a glorious day that will be!
A daughter of the King, Gabriella loves to share the teaching that the Lord has given her through the joys and trials of her life. The desire of her heart is to grow her love, knowledge, and maturity for Christ and the truth found in His Word.