Summary: What is learned when going through rough experiences in life.
Experience is often described as the best teacher a person will ever have in life, and considering what experience cost, it should be. Experience in general comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some things or some events gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event.
• In other words, when you experience something, you learn or should learn. When you experience something, your skills increase. When you go through an experience, something is gained because of your involvement and exposure to the experience.
• Do I need to make it a little clearer? Because of experience, I now know and have learned that I have to set my alarm clock for 5 a.m., to be at work by 9 a.m. Because of experience, my pay has increased on the job because I now have more skills and knowledge than I did when I first graduated from college. And because of experience, a small percentage of husbands have learned when and when not to talk or joke with their wives.
The history of the word experience is aligned closely with the concept of experiment, which involves a test or trial for the purpose of discovering something unknown or proving or disproving a principle. Experience is a form of knowledge acquired in only two ways—by doing and by being done.
• As a matter of fact, there is no way to get experience except through experience. Experience deserves respect, experience is a teacher, experience is a motivator, experience is a guide, experience is a mentor, experience matures some of us, and it will make a person better or bitter.
Take a moment to reflect on your life, what experiences have you been exposed to and been through? What knowledge have you gained from this teacher of life? Has your character grown in the soil of experience, with the fertilization of example, the moisture of desire, and the sunshine of satisfaction? I don’t know the answers to these questions when it comes to you, but one thing I do know is that all of us have had some thorny experiences.
We’re all familiar with thorns, those sharp and pointed protrusions found on some plants, bushes, and trees. Most commonly rose bushes, as pretty as its flowers are, its stems are full of thorns, and if you’re lucky enough to get stuck by a thorn, then you know that it’s very painful.
• And if you’re really fortunate to have a thorn break off into your skin, then you’ll experience irritation and suffering, but because you’re a maturing Christian, you won’t let that “word” slip out, the “word” you said when you hit your toe on the dresser years ago.
But, a thorny experience suggests that what we have experienced hasn’t always put a smile on our face. A thorny experience suggests that some of the experiences we’ve been exposed to and been through have been painful and heartbreaking. A thorny experience is an experience that sometimes make us want to throw in the towel, put our hands up in surrender, and let go of the rope of faith. Holla if you hear me if you’ve been through a thorny experience.
The biblical pericope shares with us that Paul, who was a prisoner of Christ and a great messenger of the gospel, went through some thorny experiences throughout his ministry. At one time in his life before his conversion to Christianity, Paul himself had been a thorn in the church’s side, by persecuting those who proclaimed and accepted Jesus Christ. But now, Paul found himself on the other side of the fence caught in thorny experiences.
Paul was a great preacher who God converted on the Damascus road while he was on his way to persecute Christians. God used Paul in such a way that he became an icon for the early church. Paul planted more churches than any other preacher in history, he proclaimed the gospel with boldness, and at times he too was persecuted for doing the work of the Lord.
• Paul wrote at least 13 books in the New Testament, and went on several missionary trips. Paul worked hard for the Lord and made a great impact on the early church and Christianity. If Paul had thorny experiences with such an impressive spiritual resume, then what excludes us from going through thorny experiences?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news or the mailman who continues to deliver bills to your mailbox when money has already ran out before month, but we aren’t excluded from thorny experiences, therefore we need to understand what we’re going through.
• But before we get a better understanding of thorny experiences, we need to understand what was going on in the text. Not understanding the Word of God before it’s applied is like not knowing what the foot pedal and brakes are used for before driving a car, you’ll find yourself in a dangerous situation.