Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Hope is like a harebell, trembling from its birth;
Love is like a rose, the joy of all the earth.
Faith is like a lily, lifted high and white;
Love is like a lovely rose, the world’s delight.
Harebells and sweet lilies show a thornless growth,
But the rose with all its thorns excels them both.
Like the Apostle Paul, I have repeatedly asked God to remove the thorn of pain from my life.
“… so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap (thorn) to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, MSG
My own poem below is sharp with a thorn.
DON’T CALL ME COURAGEOUS
don’t call me courageous
that title belongs to those
who make a choice
to move, or take action
brave? not me
there is nothing I have done
but breathe, or gasp
eyes briefly shut
till the worst of it
passes, dauntless? no
I have simply survived
I press on, stretch slow
inquire of and lean into my Lord
my petition simple, aching
remove this thorn
or pour out more grace
as You will
that I might best serve You
IDEAS TO SPARK YOUR POEM:
- Is there a thorn you can write about? Perhaps you have been hiding it. What is the shape of it? What is the feel of it?
- Can you think of what other things are as sharp as thorns? List them. Use them in your poem.
- Think of the roses in your life. Would you forsake the roses to escape the thorns?
- Let your words speak directly to the thorn. What would you ask it?
- What would God say to the thorn?
These questions are just to get you started. Sit with the word “thorn” for a bit. Then allow your words to find their own way. Follow them. And when they find their voice, we invite you share them in the comments or submit them to: firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication.
You can view our Submission Guidelines here. When submitting a poem, please include a scan or photo of the completed Author Release along with a headshot, brief bio, and links to your website, social media, and any book titles you’ve authored as applicable.
Enjoy the prompt.
We look forward to reading the poems that spill forth!
More Poetry Prompts
I don’t think I am alone in this fight to shake off numbness and reach for joy. And I don't want to become comfortable with this frozen feeling.
Abigail Carroll said these are poems of lament. In writing these “Make Me” poems, she began to lean into metaphor, changing not only how she wrote but also how she prayed.
Books to Inspire
Though not from a liturgical background this poet felt led to celebrate the holy through the time span from Ash Wednesday to Resurrection Sunday. From Ashes to Glory is a collection of forty-seven brief psalms written as a daily offering of worship that will encourage and draw you closer to God in any season.
Part memoir, part humorous and poignant defense of poetry, this is a book that shows you what it is to live a life with poems at your side. Megan's story is one you won't want to put down; meanwhile, her uncanny ability to reveal the why's and how's of poetry keeps calling—to even the biggest poetry doubter. If you already enjoy poetry, her story and her wisdom and her ways will invite you to go deeper, with novel ideas on how to engage with poems.
Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as "far and away, this country's best selling poet" by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years.
Marilyn Chandler Mcentyre
Readers are invited to consider what caregivers and medical professionals may learn from poetry by patients. It offers reflections on poetry as a particularly apt vehicle for articulating the often isolating experiences of pain, fatigue, changed life rhythms, altered self-understanding, embarrassment, resistance, and acceptance.
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
Karin is a handmaiden of the Lord, saved by grace, a worshiper, a poet, a broken heart, a lover of words, hungry for truth, amazed by love, on the Potter's wheel His work in progress. After five years in Africa, Karin and her beloved husband of twenty years, Rick, are back in rural Canada where chronic pain drives her to the feet of Jesus. She is powered by prayer, love, and many cups of strong coffee. She is the author of From Ashes to Glory (A Psalm a Day).