The next several weeks of blogs will be based on the animated reading posted last week. To read the full text of the poem or see the video again, click here.
We all love roses, we all hate pain but for every thorn there is a rose.
It was during a summer morning walk when I saw the rose bush and suddenly I had words for the strange reality I had been experiencing … a dichotomy of sorts—thorns and roses … pain and joy. It was on this morning I first understood the redemptive power of “thorns.”
I was in the throes of depression and disillusionment. Yet, despite my ongoing grief, God’s presence seemed closer than ever before. His peace and contentment were so tangible that at times I thought I would literally burst. In some inexplicable way, I understood that this joy was inseparable from my brokenness.
At first I thought it was only a passing emotional “coping mechanism” my neural system had unleashed to deal with my darkness. But after several months I knew that more than physiology was at work. An undeniably new awareness of God’s presence and enduring peace filled my days … even as my desperate circumstances refused to budge. This was my introduction to spiritual brokenness.
The posture of spiritual brokenness is hard to maintain because of our natural desire for pleasure and aversion to pain. We are creatures of comfort preferring the road of least resistance. We’re also creatures of pride living in a culture obsessed with keeping appearances. So this is what we do—we love roses and we hate pain. Yet, in God’s economy there is a purpose for the pain, so we must not dismiss our thorns.
God calls us to embrace our weaknesses and shortcomings, not run from them. Our selfishness, envy, pain, and losses—though we’re ashamed of these thorns we must own them if we hope to rise above them. Such honesty is inseparable from redemption because that which is lost must understand its need to be found and the broken its need of healing. So in our brokenness we choose honesty because we know that for every thorn there is a rose.
We have been wired to hate thorns ever since our expulsion from the Garden long, long ago. Our temptation ever since has been to minimize our thorns or project them on to others. No! They are ours, ours alone.
Scripture teaches that God only offers his rose of grace where real brokenness is admitted (James 4:6). This is why his mighty power is often cloaked in human weakness and most brilliantly revealed not to the proud but the desperate. And so, when I reflect on this mystery of grace, I think that if redemption ever required a disguise, its costume would surely be a thorn every time.
What Do You Think?
Can you relate to the “thorn” and the “rose” in your walk with God? For you, what does the thorn and rose each represent?