Useful Thorn Mentality

No one likes to go to the BMV. No one. In fact, in the grand hierarchy of errands, a trip to the bureau of motor vehicles ranks lower than trips to the post office, the bank, and an oil change. It is still, however, slightly more favorable than the dentist.

Franklin has the nicest, cleanest, most impressive BMV you’ll ever see, but you still don’t want to go. Not during a pandemic.

Now, if the place is closed on Sundays and Mondays, when do you think will be the busiest time of the week to go? I know! I’ll go Tuesday during lunch!

I opened the door and didn’t get far. There were people flooded out into the lobby. I peered inside to see the entire room filled with chairs, all six feet apart, and all occupied.

I waited, and waited, and waited. Twenty minutes, and I still hadn’t even made it inside the building. I had scheduled an important meeting at 1:30pm, and basic math was telling me this was not going to work out.

“Hey, David!” said a fellow Johnson County motorist as she walked by me in the lobby.

“Hiiiiii!” I said nervously, as we all do when we can’t recognize someone through a mask.

“I waited 45 minutes, and I can’t wait anymore. I have to get back to work. Here, you can have my ticket.”

It was my friend from Victory, Callie Wrede, and she had come to save the day. Her obstacle opened a (literal) door for me, and against all odds, I knocked out my BMV visit just in time to attend my 1:30pm meeting.

So often when a new year begins, we focus on how this year is going to be different than the last. I’m going to get in shape this year! I’m going to stop watching so much tv and read more books! I’m going to quit gossiping or smoking or staying up late.

But what about the things we can’t leave behind? The things we would love to stay in 2020, but that follow us into the new year? The diagnosis still attacking your body. The mountain of debt looming over your life. The regret of saying something hurtful. The grief of a loved one gone too soon.

Some things follow us into the new year uninvited.

In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul says:

“I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Now, a long wait at the BMV is far from a thorn. This shouldn’t even ruin your day, much less your year. But there is something to be said for how we respond to the things we cannot control. What was an inconvenience for Callie, she used as a blessing for me. Granted it was a small gesture, but what if we resolve to take this useful thorn mentality into the new year?

As a minister, one of the questions I love unpacking with people is this – “How can I use my God-given gifts to bless others?” That’s a fun one. That’s a conversation all parties tend to enjoy. However, the more difficult, but equally important question we should be asking is this – “How can I use my struggle to bless others?

The truth is that the darkness you’ve walked through can serve as a light to someone else. The wisdom you’ve gained could be their anchor. The grief you’ve worn could be their shield. The heartbreak you’ve endured could be their motivation to keep moving forward. What if your thorn is not just a struggle, but part of your gifting?

There are some things we all wish we could have left in 2020, some things that are not in our control. My challenge to you this week is to lean on Christ in the midst of your struggle, to make your weakness His strength. But don’t stop there!

Use your pain and suffering for Kingdom gain. Allow your thorn to bring hope to someone else. Turn your trials into someone else’s triumph. In 2021, take what the enemy meant for evil, and use it for good. This is the way of Christ Jesus.

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Franklin, IN 46131

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