Not that I’m a regular viewer, but I recently caught the tail end of an episode of ABC’s dating reality show The Bachelor. During the “rose ceremony” the studly fellow gives a long stem rose to each single lady he’d like to get to know better. During this painstaking process, each woman’s fate depends on whether or not she receives said coveted rose from said coveted fellow. It is positively riveting television.
A camera close-up of the roses revealed that they had no thorns. Either they were growing a special, thornless batch in the garden out back, or these roses had been de-pricked. I surmised this was likely to prevent said single ladies from undue harm. Why risk adding a bleeding finger to a heart that just narrowly escaped an all-out hemorrhage.
As I understand it, thorns, technically prickles, serve to protect the rose from predators; to adequately support its beauty. They can help it climb up through other vegetation to get closer to the sun and stay upright. Though sometimes painful if pricked, thorns seem to have a specific purpose. Abraham Lincoln quoted an old German proverb: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” It all depends on how you look at it.
After the telecast I caught myself singing Poison’s infamous lyric “every rose has its thorn.” I still haven’t shaken it. And neither could the Apostle Paul. Scripture says he pleaded with the Lord three times to remove his thorn, to no avail. It seems God had a specific purpose for the affliction.
The Message translation gives us a fresh rendering of the well-known passage in 2 Corinthians, chapter 12: Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap 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.
That’ll preach. And just in time for Valentine’s Day…aka “Single’s Awareness (or Appreciation) Day” (S.A.D). It all depends on how you look at it.