by Shadia Hrichi
Have you ever received a gift you didn’t expect?
My best friend loves to cook, and her kitchen is filled with every gadget known to man. While I like to bake, my kitchen tools are basic. I have silverware, a few large metal spatulas and spoons, a set of knives, etc. It wasn’t about finances; I simply didn’t know I was missing anything.
One year, my friend bought me a rubber spatula and an egg separator. I looked at the rubber spatula and quickly pictured it as the perfect tool for spreading frosting! As for the egg separator, I had no clue what it was or why she bought it for me. The pitiful look on my face prompted my dear friend to explain its purpose. As it turns out, this tool was exactly what I didn’t know I needed most.
Valentine’s Day is that sweet time of year we expect our special someone to show his or her love with chocolate, flowers, or perhaps even diamonds. Why? Because at one time, someone decided these symbolize love, and the association has stuck ever since.
But what if you discovered there is Someone who chose to express His great love for you, not with flowers but with thorns?
Why thorns? The answer goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Something happened when mankind rebelled against God: “Cursed is the ground because of you…It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18 NIV).
Even worse, the relationship between God and man was severed, and mankind was banished from the garden altogether. But because of God’s boundless love for us, God had a plan to restore that relationship even before time began. His gift did not reflect our preconceived ideas of what love should look like. God’s gift to the world did not come in a brightly-wrapped package tied with a pretty red bow. We expected flowers, and when we didn’t get them, we reciprocated with betrayal, blood, and thorns.
“And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head” (Matthew 27:28-29 ESV).
Praise God that His gift of love does not conform to what our sinful nature seeks, but rather to what He knows our hearts needed the most: His grace and forgiveness. God sent His Son Jesus, who “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13 ESV).
We expected flowers, but God showed His great love for us with thorns, and I, for one, am eternally grateful.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, and Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com
Join the conversation: What do God’s forgiveness and grace mean to you?