Roses and Thorns

rose_thornsJust like roses blossom in thorns success always stem out of adversity. Every successful individual you see out there – is, has been, or will soon be – nursing pain of a proportionate degree. Like wise, if you come across a person undergoing some sort of adversity be assured that that same individual has been, is being, or will soon be enjoying an equal or greater measure of blessing.

Due to her mesmerising beauty Rachael was preferred by Jackob ahead of Leah her sister. Because Leah was unattractive and unloved, the scripture says, God enabled her to have children, and Rachel was left unable to bare children. (Genesis 29:31)

In the scripture appear to suggest that Leah was blessed with children because of (not in spite of) her unlovable attributes. If that is indeed the case it is safe to say that God closed Rachael’s womb  because He blessed her with attractiveness and love. Another way of saying this is that Leah’s unattractiveness was a prerequisite for her fruitfulness in the same way Rachael’s attractiveness  was a prerequisite for her inability to have children.

This scenario underlines the afore mentioned principle ; every blessing comes with a proportionate measure of pain and every pain comes with an equal or greater measure of blessing.

So if you don’t want to experience pain, I’m sorry to say, don’t pray for great things in life. As Anne  Bronte once said, “he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.”

One may wonder if pain is indeed necessary. Well, the answer is emphatic yes.  God in His astute wisdom decided that a blessing can be supported best by pain. If there were a better way God would have undoubtedly gone for it and pain wouldn’t have been part of His creation. But as Apostle Paul found out, pain is by far the blessing’s best servant.

Paul wrote over 75% of the New Testament because he was blessed with extraordinary divine wisdom. “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations”, Paul says, “there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me”. The reason why God gave Paul a thorn was to help him keep his feet on the ground – not to exalt himself. ( 2 Corinthians 12:7)

There is a saying by John Newton that goes, “Adversities are medicines which our gracious and wise physician prescribes because we need them; and he proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires.” How true…!

In his book, The Flipside, Adam J. Jackson gave a telling story that explains further the fact that every tradgedy carries corresponding benefit.

On 14 December 1931, a crowd was gathered at Reading Aero Club watching in awe as a talented young RAF pilot, just twenty-three years of age, demonstrated low-flying acrobatics over the airfield. suddenly, their awe turned to horror; as the plane came out of a roll, the tip of the left wing touched the ground , and the plane rolled and crashed. The injuries sustained in the accident were too severe to repair. The only option available was to amputate the pilot’s legs.

Naturally, Douglas Bader was devastated. He didn’t know then, but the loss of his legs would, in the years ahead , help him to become a legend as an RAF fighter pilot in the Second World War and this, in turn, would lead to him being knighted.

By August 1941, Bader had shot down twenty-two German planes. only four other pilots in the RAF had shot down more enemy aircraft. The remarkable thing is that Bader’s success was not in spite of the fact that he had no legs but  largely because of the fact that he had no legs!

One of the observations of aerial combat was that when pilots pulled out of turns at speed the flow of blood could drain from the brain to the extremities causing temporary blackout. but as Bader had no legs, his brain didn’t lose nearly as much blood flow.  As a result, he could remain conscious that much longer which gave him a significant advantage over the able-bodied enemy pilots against whom he fought.

However, the real flipside came on 9 August 1941 when his plane collided in midair with a Messerschmidt over Le Touquet in France. As he tried to bale out, Bader became aware that his right prosthetic leg was trapped. The plane careered towards the ground. Any other pilot would have been facing certain death, but it was because Bader had no legs that he survived that day. The strap holding the prosthetic limb snapped, and it was only then that Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader was able to extricate himself from the doomed just in time.

The purpose of this message is not to put you off but to help you enjoy your blessings with humility. My desire is to help us appreciate even the most uncomfortable of experiences because they carry within them the seeds of success.

My sincere prayer is for the Lord to help us to be grateful that thorns have roses instead of grumbling that roses have thorns. Amen

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