If you’ve been alive for more than a few years, you’ve heard the warning, “Well, life’s not a bed of roses, you know.” This is supposed to help someone needing encouragement during a tough time in life.
Strolling the large rose garden at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, a few weeks ago, this saying came back to me, and I considered it differently.
Roses are beautiful in their multitude of colors, shapes, sizes, and even fragrances! The petals are like velvet, and the effect of both color and aroma can be calming to the senses. Unfortunately, this is the only part of the rose included in this erroneous cliché, somehow limiting the entire plant to just the blossom, forgetting the plant from which those flowers grow.
Years ago, I grew roses – yes, Kay, the non-gardener — caring for them diligently in the hot climate and sandy soil of the Tampa area. Initially, some beauties were produced in that garden – before successive years with no opportunity for hibernation joined with diseases and pests determined to live off these bushes brought my effort to an end.
Of all the spiritual lessons I learned during my rose years, the most glaring disproved that cliché. Indeed, life is a bed of roses. There are pretty and not-so-pretty parts. There are smooth, fresh, even sweet-smelling times, and then there are times you only see or feel the pain of thorns. But a bush is not a rose bush without the thorns, leading to the beauty of the blossom. Likewise, our life is not made of only the seasons of evident fruit. The tougher times, the ones forcing our roots to go deeper, with no velvet, no color, no obvious fragrance above, work together to produce a more complete beauty – the evidence of Christ in and through us. Two verses seem to intertwine to bring strength and comfort during the thornier parts of our journey:
Romans 8:28 For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
If you are in a non-blooming period of life, may you remember this simple bed-of-roses illustration. And may the eternal hope of Christ arise at the prospect of the as-yet-unseen beautiful blooms He is developing in you.