Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Every Rose and Every Thorn

There have been so many songs that have shared the same theme. In 1969, Country singer-songwriter Joe South wrote “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” which debuted on his album, Introspect. It was covered by male artists like Freddy Weller, Billy Joe Royal, and Dobie Gray before Lynn Anderson made it an international crossover hit in 1971. Aside from peaking on the US Hot 100 at number 3, it also topped the Country chart for five weeks. Later, Billy Ocean co-wrote and performed a song, “When the Going Gets Tough” in 1985. A little later, the rock group, Poison, had a hit with their song, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, in 1988.

I am sure that there are more songs with a very similar theme and each represents a different aspect of that central theme. We all must accept the bitter with the better. It is just part of life. Life is full of great moments and also moments that are sometimes too painful and we wish we could forget them. Our lives are full of those good moments and some that are just plain bad.

When I was growing up, I remember the old ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” commercial. Jim McKay dramatically reminded us of the nature of sports, “Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition... This is ‘ABC's Wide World of Sports!’”

Life is truly a human drama. Sometimes, we have moments of celebration and then experience moments of sadness where we weep. When you reflect on your life and take stock of it for whatever reason, you get to see the rich tapestry of your life. Each panel in that tapestry is dedicated to a particular moment of your life. As I look at my own life, I see moments of great triumph and moments of great tragedy. I have tasted sweet victory and have also tasted the bitterness of defeat. I keep telling myself the same thing over and over that it is just part of life. It is just a bad season.

A farmer or rancher knows exactly what a good season is and what a bad season is. Some years are filled with abundance while other years the little ones are eating the big ones. Think of Pharaoh's dream in chapter forty-one of the Book of Genesis. There will always be great years of abundance and there will always be years of famine.

Nowhere in the Bible is this point better made than in chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The author writes, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A  time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

When you look closely at these verses, you can easily see how life can fall into those seasons. Our lives can be easily divided up into seasons, but the real issue is how we deal with the seasons where we experience hardship and those tough times.

We have a choice. We can either just get bitter or we can turn to Father God and look to Him for help, wisdom and guidance. We can decide to blame God for our misfortune or praise Him for all that He has done in our lives. The choice is yours to make. You can get bitter or you can get better. 

The author later writes in chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes, “What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

The author tells us that everything will be beautiful in its own time and that we cannot see the whole scope of God’s work. We can only see what is before us. What we need to do is to be patient and remain faithful to God. Things are often darkest before dawn, but that is why we have faith in God’s will. As His children, we must accept His will in all situations in our lives. I know that it is very hard to do when you face more defeats rather than victories. It would be easier to walk away from God. But, He never promised you that life would get easier as His child. The one thing we have from Him is the promise of eternal life and that is what we strive for in our lives. We worship and praise Him even when the times are bad. We humble ourselves and rejoice no matter what we are facing.

In chapter three of his book, the prophet, Habakkuk prays, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Habakkuk’s prayer should be the model in our lives. No matter what happens we are to be joyful and rejoice in the Lord. When you look back at last year, it seemed like there was nothing stopping us from having a great year. The economy was booming. A great sense of optimism filled the hearts of people. Everything seemed good. By the end of the year, something was looming on the horizon. It was a global pandemic. Within just a few months of starting the new year of 2020 and a new decade, we found ourselves facing food and medical supply shortages. We had to be quarantined and unemployment skyrocketed. Many thought that this would be a momentary inconvenience and things would quickly return to normal. Weeks stretched into months and it became increasingly clear that we were now living the winter of our discontent.

When we experience those bitter seasons, we should not give up on our faith or on God. That is when we should rejoice in Him and be joyful in the God of our salvation. I know that it isn’t easy to do. You can only see the darkness and it seems like the light of hope has been snuffed out. Rest assured that it hasn’t. It is always there. It is up to us and us alone to seek that light of salvation and hope given to us by Father God through His son, Christ Jesus.

Paul, in his epistle to the church at Philippi, wrote, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

I could not have put it any better. No matter what happens in your life, always be full of joy. Rejoice in the Lord and remain faithful to Him. He will definitely see you through the good and bad times. He is, and will always be, your refuge and your shield. There is truly no one like Him. His power sustains the whole universe and you are so very precious to Him. Never, ever forget that. So when you are facing feast or famine, rejoice in the Lord and always stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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