As anyone who has been to Africa will testify the thorns here are numerous and vary from very small (0.5cm) to rather large (10cm). There are seasons when the thorns are around in greater number than at others but we are never without them. These thorns make walking hazardous as depending on your footwear the thorns can penetrate the sole of your shoe/sandal or thong. Even those around us who go without shoes and have very tough soles on their feet are not free from the problems posed by the thorns particularly the larger ones.
It is possible to see the thorns attached to the footwear of different individuals by the imprint that is made in the sand. Sometimes we see footprints with no sign of thorns, but we also see footprints where the sole of a person’s footwear is covered in thorns. While it is
possible to walk on the soft sand with your sole covered in thorns and not feel them when you come to a hard surface or rocky ground one is suddenly and painfully aware of the sharp tips of the thorns penetrating your feet. As a result of this Craig and I have adopted the practice of scraping our feet as soon as we come to a hard surface be it a rocky stretch of ground or the tarmac strip that runs through Tsumkwe.
It struck me that the same may be true in life. We may carry various “thorns”, problems or hurts from situations or encounters with others that we may believe we have moved past or dealt with. While life is not difficult, or the sand is soft, we don’t feel the impact of what we carry. It is when we strike rocky ground and hard surfaces, when life is difficult and challenging that the “thorns” are noticed and begin to trouble us. It is at this point that something is required of us.
Maybe our response needs to be to take action to deal with our difficulties, seeking the help of those God has equipped to help us; pastors, mentors, counsellors etc. Or maybe our response needs to be to seek our Heavenly Father and allow his love, grace and mercy to minister to us that his power may be seen in our weakness. The apostle Paul wrote about a thorn in his flesh. He pleaded three times with the Father to remove this thorn. The Father’s reply was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)