Racing around the kitchen, I gathered the rest of my books and miscellany as I prepared to run out the door when I heard my love say, "you've got to read this poem."
I stopped short because I can recall on one finger the number of times the man I've been married to for over 20 years has uttered these words. So naturally, I was curious. He began reading The Thorn. I was particularly moved by the beauty of the language and truth, but unaware of the import this simple poem would have later this very day.
I am so thankful God does not care about my schedule. When He wants my attention He finds a way to get it, even when I don't realize He has it.
He provided. Before I even threw my hasty prayers to Him on my way to school that morning, asking for my words to be His words in the parent conferences, He answered.
Through the words in that obscure poem, He already had provided for situations yet to occur; the healing balm of Gilead found in the words to a troubled heart.
I passed back a failed geography test to one of my hard working students. This young one struggles with a form of dyslexia which make certain aspects of visual memory quite difficult for her. I knew this would be hard to receive and I wanted to protect her heart, but I also recognized that this was the reality for her. I put my arm around her and told her not to be discouraged. The poem suddenly appeared in my mind and I shared it with her.
"God gives good gifts. This is what He has for you. He is fitting you for His service. Do not be troubled. He is doing something mighty in you with this thorn."
She hugged me, teared up, smiled and said, "I know. Thank you."
Later that afternoon I met with several parents for conferences. One of my conferences was with a mom whose son also struggles with learning disabilities. Even though the disabilities are mild, it is clear how deep the wounds are for this mom who daily carries the burden of watching her son struggle with concepts that seem to come so easily for others.
Tears spilled down her cheeks as I shared the words of the poem that had already once been a salve to a heavy heart. This momma routinely carries her son's thorn, living with the pierced skin and tasting the blood it leaves behind.
The thorn allows a glimpse into the suffering of Him who gave everything. It is the gift of love - the gift we would not ask for, but the gift that most fashions us after the giver. The thorn is the gift of abundance, of blessing, of healing, of union with the one who partook of the gift, never uttering a complaint. It is the gift that gives us precisely what we need. The perfect gift that saves us from ourselves.
The thorn is a hard gift. But it is a gift of mercy. Thank you for the thorn. Someday we will lay it down and receive a crown in its place. Until then, teach us to love the gift.