If God gave us no thorn

(John MacDuff, "The Leper-warrior" 1873)

God's dealings with His people are often incomprehensible.
His name to them is that which He gave to Manoah,
"Wonderful," "Secret," "Mysterious."

That wearing sickness,
that wasting heritage of pain,
these long tossings on a fevered, sleepless pillow,
--where is God's love or mercy here?

But the silence and loneliness of the sickbed is the
figurative "wilderness," where He "allures" that He
may "speak comfortably unto them, and give them
their vineyards from thence" (Hosea 2:14, 15),
rousing them from the contemptible dream of
earthly happiness
, from the sordid and the secular,
from busy care and debasing solicitude--to the
divine and the heavenly!

Or, that unexpected affliction of poverty--the crash
of earthly fortune--the forfeiture of earthly gain--the
stripping of cherished treasure, and sending those
'nursed in the lap of luxury' penniless on the world
--where is God's mercy or love here?

But it is through this beneficial, though rough discipline,
that God weans from the enervating influence of prosperity,
leading them to exchange 'the mess of earthly pottage'
for 'the bread of life'--perishable substance for the fine
gold of heavenly wealth and durable riches!

Or, that cruel blighting of young hope and pure affection
--the withering of some cherished gourd--the opening of
'early graves' for the loving and beloved; holiest ties
formed, but the 'memory' of which is all that remains.
Where is God's kindness and mercy in creating bonds
only to sever them? raising up friends only to bury them?

The plaintive experience and utterance of the bereaved
mother in Israel, is that of many, "Call me not Naomi,
call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly
with me!
" (Ruth 1:20)

But the 'shallow rills' are dried by Him, in order to lead to
the 'great Fountainhead'. The links of earthly affection are
broken, in order that stronger and more enduring ones may
be formed above. The rents have been made in the house
of clay, only to render more inviting the eternal home in
heaven--stimulating us to live more for that world where
all is perfection--where we shall stand without a fault
before the throne!

Yes, suffering Christian! believe it--your trials are designed
by Him who sent them, to bring you nearer Himself! They
are His own appointed gateways, opening up and admitting
to great spiritual blessings!

The mother eagle is said purposely to put a 'thorn' into her
nest to compel her young brood to fly. If God gave us no
--if He never disturbed the "downy nest of our worldly
ease"--we might be tempted to remain grovelers forever!
He knows us better! He loves us better!

The day will come when we shall joyfully testify, "Had it
not been for these wilderness experiences--that protracted
sickness--that loss of worldly position--the death of that
cherished friend--I would still have been clinging to 'earth'
as my portion, content with the polluted rill and the broken
cistern, instead of drawing water out of the wells of salvation!"