I have often felt frustrated and weary of recurring issues in my life: unpleasant pain in the ‘a__’ and prickly thorn in my side. Like me, have you ever wondered why God allowed such unpleasant circumstances and difficult people to remain in our lives?
In Judges 3, it was told that God did not drive out all the nations in Canaan for two reasons:
1) to teach warfare to those children of Israelite who had no battle experience. The first generation who went to war all died out. vv.1-2
2) to test the Israelites whether they would obey God’s commands v.4
These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.
Paul prayed to God 3x to take away his thorn. God said my grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in your weakness. God wanted Paul to rely on His power and not to exalt himself.
Until I learn the lessons of patience, God will continue to send difficult people, and put me in places that test my patience. Until I learn the lessons of love, there would always be unlovable people, unreasonable and rude people to test my patience.
The so-called ‘thorns’ in our life could be God’s means of teaching us something. God wants us to depend on Him. It is His way of honing our characters and making us more like him – to see if we will obey and follow Jesus faithfully.