Earlier this spring I pruned three miniature rosebushes that surround a big rock in our front gardens. There were obvious spiky twigs and straggly branches that needed some attention with my pruning shears if they were to be aesthetically pleasing rosebushes for the summer season. I encountered many thorns that day, but no roses. Today I have beautiful diminutive pink and red roses in addition to the thorns that still exist on the stems. Although most varieties of roses do not grow without thorns, roses remain my favorite summer flower. Roses are fragrant and beautiful while their thorns tell me some spiritual stories.
Cursed is the ground because of you;…
It will produce thorns and thistles for you
Thorns are mentioned in the first book of the Bible. After Adam and Eve sinned, thorns were part of the curse placed upon mankind. Thorns are symbolic of sin in these verses. The stick of rose thorns hurt my fingers and the prick of sin causes pain in my spirit.
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns
and put it on His head.
During the mock trail of Jesus, a crown of thorns was placed upon His head. This crown was composed of big thorns, not the little ones I have on my rosebushes. These big thorns hurt Jesus’ head. Jesus wore this crown of thorns when He hung on the cross and died for our sins. While the soldiers wove the thorns into a crown, God was weaving these thorns into His plan of salvation. The sins of all mankind were placed upon Jesus’ head that day as He wore the crown of thorns. The beauty of the thorns became evident only after Jesus’ resurrection. Three days after dying on the cross, He rose from the grave and became a blossoming rose of everlasting life. The splendor of salvation became available to us because Jesus endured the agony of the cross and the crown of thorns. The rose of Christ had thorns! Every time my finger is pricked by a thorn of a rose in my garden I am reminded of the pain of sin that Jesus endured for me.
there was given me a thorn in the flesh,
a messenger of Satan to torment me–
to keep me from exalting myself!
II Corinthians 12:7
Paul experienced what he called a thorn in the flesh. We are never given a detailed description of what the thorn was, but whatever it was, it caused pain to Paul. Three times he prayed that this thorn be removed but the Lord’s response was to assure Paul that His power was made perfect in weakness. In turn, this weakness kept Paul humble. Paul concluded by declaring that his thorn allowed him to be strong in the Lord’s strength. I must remember to turn my painful and difficult circumstances over to God, realizing they are the evidence of His working in my life. Whether from a rosebush or another source, sometimes pricks of pain can encourage me to humbly turn to the Lord for help.
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I continue to look closely at my little roses, I become aware that the thorns on the stem cannot be separated from the blossom of the flower. This realization is applicable both botanically for roses and spiritually for my relationship with Jesus. As Paul tells the Romans, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Paul lists such things as tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword as possibilities that could cause separation, but concludes that none of these things have the potential to do so. For example, I might pray for God to increase my patience. In turn, He may answer by allowing me to endure circumstances where it is hard for me to restrain my frustration. More patience in my personality will blossom as the end result, but in the meantime I have to be touched by some thorns.
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing.
II Corinthians 2:15
As I pick a few roses from my rosebush, I am willing to feel a few sticks from the thorns because of the beauty and sweet aroma of the roses. Often Jesus allows us to be pricked with pain so that we can be penetrated with His perfume. The blossoms of blessings are often sweeter when followed by a little laceration of a thorn.
As I kneel before my miniature rosebushes, I also kneel before the Lord in prayer. I thank God for the roses, and I even thank Him for the thorns. I ask the Lord to teach me the value of thorns. I need His help to accept, not resent, pain and persecution because God is with me and will use all things to fulfill His purposes. I also thank Him for the thorns He endured to forgive my sins and I ask for His abiding presence to help me spread the fragrance of faith to those around me.