The rod of God which brings hardship and adversity in its wake is often a blessing in disguise. Prosperity and good fortune frequently dull the senses, but trying times will compel the prodigal to come to himself (Lk. 15:17). The Lord will chasten the son in whom He delights (Prov. 3: 12). God builds a thorn-hedge around the transgressor to keep him from further iniquity. Hosea said of faithless Israel: “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them but shall not find them; then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” (Hos. 2:6,7).
Because the Lord loved Israel He raised up thorns and walls to frustrate her projects and desires. Israel was shut up in her way, first, by a hedge of thorns, and then by a stonewall. The vineyards of the ancients were so protected; surrounded first with a thorn-hedge, then with a wall (Isa. 5:5). The lesson is clear. The Lord ever corrects with growing severity (Lev. 26: 14-39). If Israel will not be contained by the thorns, then the wall will deter her.
Often those who are the most bent on sinful ways are hindered by thorns and obstacles. Such is a kind rebuke from a kind Lord. The Sodomites were struck blind and wearied themselves to find the door (Gen. 19:11). Balaam was hindered in the cursing of Israel by an angel who stood in his way (Num. 22:22). Obstacles and hardships are great blessings in an evil course. They are Gods hedges to restrain us from further transgressions. It has well been said, “Heaven smites in mercy, even when the blow is severest.”
Conclusion: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). It is not in man that walks to direct his own steps. Allow the Lord to correct your imperfections (Jer 10:23,24). The difficulties of this life are not always what they seem. God sends adversity not because He is merciless or unconcerned but rather because He cares. The Lord chastens those whom He loves (Rev 3:19). The problems which often surround the saints, the pressure of unpaid bills and the apparent curse of physical infirmities, are serve enough to keep us from wandering out of God’s green pastures and to keep us from withdrawing from his eternal purpose (Job 33:17). “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor 4:17) Even so, when we are persecuted we rejoice not, but once we have overcome our rejoicing is exceedingly great because we have been reborn into the world to come (Matt 5:12 f; Rom 8:18; Jam 1:12) Therefore, as we see a new year quickly approaching, we need to pray for a blessing upon our daily rod as well as upon our daily bread, and allow the Lord to have his own way!