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Last year, I got to preach my first sermon to a bunch of teenagers at my church. It was by far the most terrifying experience I ever had. I had this strong urge to say something, but I had no idea what it was. I called my youth pastor, who is also a dear friend of mine and told him. To my surprise, he said, “Yes.” I had a week to prepare, and luckily it was Spring Break so I had nothing else to do. I’m a school teacher, so I thought it would be very much like preparing a daily lesson. Boy, did I think wrong.

Personally, I was going through a lot at the time. I remember how difficult it was to focus on what God wanted me to share because my mind would drift to my own problems. I ended up fasting for a week. It was strange. I lost my appetite for everything! Looking back, I remember a lot of crying, reading, praying, and worshiping—more than I had done in years. I called a friend of mine who is an Elder in my church to help me prepare. I ended up writing the sermon over a few days. He gave me great tips of how to structure my message, but more importantly, he told me what I was experiencing was okay and normal. He described it as an “emptying of self.”

What a relief. I thought I was going crazy.

The message was called, “Don’t Get it Twisted: Every Rose has It’s Thorn.” It was based on 2 Corinthians 12:7: 
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
The premise was simple. On the outside, things may look rosy, but we are all struggling with something on the inside. In Paul’s case, his thing violently jabbed at him. That thing was his thorn, and it isn’t such a bad thing. You may ask, “How can something so painful and unattractive be connected to something so beautiful, delicate, and fragrant?”

Thorns actually have two purposes. First, they are meant to protect wild roses from herbivores who pick up their scent. They can also help roses grow upward toward sunlight. Science tells us that the most beautiful roses are the sweetest smelling, and thus have the largest thorns.

What does this mean for you? You are a rose—wonderfully and fearfully made by an almighty God. However, as great as you think you are, you need protection and growth. Our thorns can be temptations, fears, motives, or habits. Like Paul, God will allow a thorn to stay present in your life for a particular reason. He does so not to hurt you. Nor to discourage you. Nor to frustrate you. He allows it to keep you completely dependent and submitted to Him.

If God never let us experience any adversity, we would become too haughty and think we don’t need Him. So when we boast about our blessings, all glory should go to God. Because just when we think we have arrived, our thorn says, “Hello Mr. Such E. Much, remember me?”

At the end of the message, I gave out twelve roses to those struggling with life thorns. I was so moved to see young people crying and pouring their hearts out to God. I will tell you what I told them. You are a fragrant offering to God through Christ Jesus. On that note, thank God for your thorn! He wants to protect the beauty of your life story as it unfolds. Let it help you grow spiritually so you can do what He has called you to do. Wake up and smell the roses!

Copyright: Saki Milton
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Saki Milton
Web site:
Saki resides in Charlotte, NC where she is an active member of Elevation Church. Since joining Elevation, she volunteers in the production ministry. Her mission is to help others practically change their lives through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In her spare time, she writes inspiring words about everyday life on her blog, Cupasaki.

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