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A beautiful rose grows in summer. One may argue its beauty and fragrance surpass all other blooms in the garden, yet beneath the bloom, something unpleasant and painful grows. Thorns line its stem. Why does something so beautiful, pleasant, and good have thorns? 

We all know people whose lives are beautiful like the rose, people who follow Jesus in such a way we admire their faith and how they allow God to use them. One day something unpleasant and painful emerges that seems useless and unfair. Why do bad things happen to “good” people? 

Study of Paul’s life reveals his commitment to Jesus. We would consider him a “good” person, yet he suffered from a physical ailment God would not remove. “I was given 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.” (2 Corinthians 12: 7-9)

The rose’s thorns protect it from predators and enable it to climb to a place of more light. The thorns actually position it to grow stronger. Our “thorns” help us grow in Christ. They bring us to a place of relying on Him. When there is no way we can recover, no way we can pull through, no way we can get better, God shows up. Sometimes he removes the “thorns” as we might when placing a rose in a bouquet. Sometimes He shows His power by blessing us and using us despite the “thorns.” Either way He chooses to work, His power is revealed through our weakness and the beauty He brings to our life is revealed.

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