I never want to romanticize suffering. I take it very seriously. But I can’t overlook what God has done through suffering people. Suffering made some people spiritual tour de forces. Thorns on a stem or a vine deter predators from destroying the plant. They prevent deer and rabbits from chewing it to death. Thorns in a person’s life protect unseen flowers so flowers can transform into beautiful fruit.
Fannie Crosby had a minor eye inflammation when she was six weeks old. She was treated by a careless doctor and left blind for the rest of her life. It was a dark life that bloomed from the inside out. She wrote over eight thousand gospel songs including “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory.” She said, “I could not have written thousands of hymns if I had been hindered by the distractions of seeing all the interesting and beautiful objects presented to my notice.”
Thorns have gotten a bad name because they are so difficult to remove. The apostle of great visions and revelations, Paul, wanted his gone. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). But he was stuck with it. Paul recognized the purpose of his thorn just like Fanny understood hers. They might be together right now, singing a chorus she wrote:
And I shall see him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace.
(from “Saved by Grace” by Fanny Crosby)