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Thorns in the Wilderness

“…Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me…” – 2 Corinthians 12:7

While on a recent backpacking trip with my daughter, I found myself crying out to God in prayer before even breaking out in a sweat.
First, my GPS was having issues and couldn’t locate the trail head. So, what should have been a 1.5-hour drive, turned into almost 3 hours. While it had only been sprinkling all morning, as soon as we started hiking the rain came pouring down. Then, not even a half mile into the trip, my waist belt broke, which meant my pack would have to rest on my shoulders and back, not my hips. And, finally, at the foot of our first incline, my trekking pole broke, and with my bad knees, this was a vital piece of equipment.
After each incident I found myself praying for strength to get through the “thorns.” But then the real “thorn” was thrown my way. About three miles from our first shelter, my left shoulder strap broke! I now had to carry 25 pounds on just one shoulder in the pouring rain.
In Scripture, Paul’s thorn is never revealed to us, but, to me, it sounds similar to a physical ailment and that he would have for the duration of his life. My thorns were temporary, but, at the time, they were consuming my every thought.
Hiking to our shelter, I prayed for wisdom, strength, stamina, etc.—anything and everything to keep my mind, and especially my daughter’s attitude, as positive as possible. When we arrived at our very dry shelter, I cut the sleeves off a long sleeve T-shirt and made a shoulder strap, then cut the shirt into four strips and made a waist belt. Quick fixes to temporary problems. Plus, I found a sturdy stick the same size as my trekking pole. God is good all the time! The rest of the trip was a piece of cake compared to that first day.
In life, equipment will fail you, people will fail you, situations will surprise you. But no matter what your circumstances, once you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, He promises never to leave you nor forsake you. He’ll be with you in every challenge, and His love will be the only thing that never fails you!

1. When your sports equipment or your body fails you, do you lash out? Where do you direct your anger?
2. What if you’re having a bad day or if you fail a test? Whose fault is it?
3. What is the truth of each of those situations? Does God still love you? Does He still have a good plan for you? (Hint: See the verses below if you don’t know the answers.)

WORKOUT:

Psalm 23
Psalm 28
Matthew 11:28
Romans 8:28-39
1 Corinthians 12:7-10

Lenette M. Peterson

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