A colleague and friend of mine tells of funeral he conducted for a man on the north coast of Tasmania. The man was a loner, eccentric, and a human being of unbounded hope! He had the habit of roaming the district with a grubber, and, wherever he found a thistle, he dug it up. The thistles were persistent, and came back, but it never dinted his resolve to keep digging them up!

Are “thistles” choking your path? Frustrating your progress and tripping you up? Pricking you with painful “thorns”?…. Life can often be that way! Ironically we bring this on ourselves. God states that this is the direct result of our human self-will (Gen 3:17,18). To mirror this, the environment itself seems overrun with “thorny” problems – pollution, extinctions, climatic disaster.

It’s enough to make you want to give up!…

However, Christ is making all things new (Rev 21:5)! In the victory of His cross and resurrection, He has broken the power of evil, cancelled sin, and set in train the full restoration of the creation, and of all people who will believe in Him. In faith in Him, we can progress toward that goal with full hope and even joy – however “thorny the thistles”!

As we approach this Advent and Christmas season, may we do so with the hope of the usually missing third verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn – “Joy to the world!”

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow,
Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found!

Joy to the world, Jonathan.