A THORN PRIED

Those were the dark days. After I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), I desperately researched the internet seeking answers and solace. I visited several online support groups, only to leave miserably discouraged and afraid. Every website and discussion group revealed one thing: a grim future. I couldn’t bear to read people’s heart-wrenching stories, because it was my reality at home too.

But, sometime in those early days, the Lord grabbed hold of my heart and instilled a glimmer of hope. No, I wasn’t miraculously healed, nor could I walk. Constant pain filled my days. Nothing changed–except my soul.

Through prayer and Bible study, God opened my eyes to His perspective: He was carefully shaping me to be more Christ-like.

For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

That was the secret.

That’s what it is in your life, too. Absolutely nothing escapes the Lord’s sovereign will. If you’re experiencing hardship, then you may have absolute assurance it’s for your good:

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2

With the veil of pain removed, we see clearly. The eternal goal is holiness, and that comes through God’s pruning. He isn’t haphazard, but tender and careful, gently imparting Jesus’ righteousness.

Of course, it doesn’t seem gentle when our world has been turned upside down. But, like prying a thorn out of a child’s finger, so the Lord removes sin from our hearts. It hurts. We fight it. We stomp our feet and scream at the top of our lungs. Thankfully, He isn’t deterred by tantrums. He presses on, making us ever more like His Son.

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO GOD’S PRUNING?

PRAY: Complaining and worrying accomplishes nothing, however, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

THINK: Focus thoughts on eternity, not on today. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above,” Colossians 3:1

TRUST: God loves you and promises to take care of you. “This is what the Lord says—He who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid…” Isaiah 44:2

HOPE: Our hope isn’t in the problem disappearing, but in the power of the Lord to safely deliver us in it. “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” 2 Timothy 4:17

As the Lord pries thorns from our sinful hearts, we can take comfort that He is the master gardener. Perfect love guides His pruning shears.

Carrie Cooper @ comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com

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