The particular thorn which troubles you, whether it be the positive distress of something present or the lack of something desired and sought after, is undoubtedly for your good. You may not see it, but it may be keeping you humble, keeping you safe, and teaching you to lean upon God.
Samuel Rutherford, writing once a letter of consolation to a sorely tried friend, reminded him that Christ, in selecting a cross for him, had ten thousand upon which he might have drawn and that, of this great number, this was the particular cross which he had chosen for him. This is worth thinking about when your thorn seems sharper than you can endure. This is the cross and this the thorn which Christ has chosen for you.
John Wesley was one day walking along the road with a friend who, sore vexed and troubled, expressed his doubts of God's goodness. 'I don't know what I shall do with all my worries and troubles,' said he. Wesley noticed a cow looking over a stone wall, and put the question, 'Why does a cow look over the wall?'
`Because it can't see through it, I suppose,' replied his friend.
`Precisely!' said Wesley. 'So, if you can't see through your troubles, try looking over them: and look up to God.'
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely, it seems beyond strength:
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll:
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends:
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod:
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.
(Ps. 73. 26; Job. 23. 10; 2 Cor. 1. 8)
A jeweler gives as one of the surest tests for diamonds the `water test'. He says: 'An imitation diamond is never so brilliant as a genuine stone. If your eye is not experienced enough to detect the difference, a simple test is to place the stone under water. The imitation diamond is practically extinguished. A genuine diamond sparkles under water and is distinctly visible. If you place a genuine stone beside an imitation under water, the contrast will be apparent to the least experienced eye.'
Many seem confident of their faith so long as they have no trials; but when the waters of sorrow and affliction overflow them, their faith loses its brilliancy. It is under these circumstances that the true children of God shine as genuine jewels.
(Job. 23. 10; Isa. 43. 1, 2; 1 Pet. 1. 7)
As woods, when shaken by the breeze,
Take deeper, firmer root,
As winter's frosts but make the trees
Abound in summer fruit;
So every Heaven-sent pang and throe
That Christian firmness tries,
But nerves us for our work below,
And forms us for the skies.—Lyte
Happy is he whose heart Hath found the art
To turn his double pains to double praise.—Geo. Herbert
"Our light affliction, which is but for a moment" (II Cor. 4:17).
He was a very illiterate negro, who could only spell his way through the Bible with great effort and often failed to grasp the full import of the passages he tried to read. Rising to his feet in a testimony meeting where the leader had called upon each one to give his favorite portion of Scripture, the aged, colored brother said, "I gets more help from dem bressed words 'And it came to pass' than anything else in the Bible."
Asked what he meant, he explained, "When I'se so upset wid trouble and pestered wid trials, I goes to the Bible and begins to read, and I never goes far before I come across dem words, 'It came to pass' and I says, Tress de Lawd. It didn't come to stay. It come to pass!' " Surely we may all learn from his simple faith.
The colored man was before the court, accused of horse-stealing. The prosecuting attorney read the indictment sternly, and then asked:
"Are you guilty, or not guilty?"
The prisoner wriggled perplexedly, and then grinned propitiatingly as he said:
"Now, suh, boss, ain't dat perzakly de ting we'se done gwine diskiver in dis-yere trial?"