Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, 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.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. II Corinthians 12:7-9
Yesterday I spent several hours working in my yard – mowing, weeding, mulching, planting. All of my gardens suffered from neglect. From wedding weekends, to a week at camp, to unbearable heat, they all add up to weeds taller than me, grass out of control, and flowers way past that need for deadheading.
There is something very satisfying about turning a riot of overgrown weeds and past-their-prime-flowers into a tame, cultured, and pleasing plant bed. I’d show you before-and-after pictures, but I was too ashamed to take a before picture. With a little bit of Round-up and some time spent pinching back flowers, I should be able to keep this portion of the garden under control without too much difficulty.
This garden wraps around the side of the house; therefore, I have several more hours of work to get it all under control. But, just beyond that second ornamental fence is a rosebush. The poor thing has been blighted by those nasty Japanese beetles.
After the beetles had their family reunion and feasted on Rose a la Goebel, I bought some Sevin and sprayed. It worked! And now the valiant little rosebush is trying to come back to life!
This makes me happy. However, as I was laying the black cloth and spreading the mulch, my left gloved hand got too close to the rosebush and it pricked my finger. I pulled my hand away grumbling. I kept working, but my finger hurt so badly, I removed my glove to inspect the wound. The thorn had broken off and remained in my finger. (No wonder it hurt.) I was able to pull the thorn out and then my finger bled profusely. (I was going to be a bit more graphic, but refrained for you sensitive types.) It bled so much I had to put it under cold water to get it to stop. Armed with a band-aid I returned to the garden.
My finger continued to hurt for over 24 hours. (It’s feeling much better now, thank you.) And, of course, it brought to mind the verse from Paul about having a thorn in the flesh. Re-read that verse again. Three times Paul asked God to remove the thorn. That thorn in my finger hurt terribly. The minute I removed it, I felt better. Paul’s thorn remained in his flesh – and God gave him the grace to endure.
I can’t imagine leaving the thorn in my finger and trying to continue to do my work. It would make things harder to complete. It would distract me. It would make me want to stop and be a wimp. Interesting how a simple slip of the hand in the garden opened my eyes to a better understanding of God’s grace.