I love the Theatre. I have been in a few dozen plays and musical and performed prose and poetry as well as group oral interpretations of works since I began in the Third Grade. One of my favorite roles was being part of my high school production of The Diary of Anne Frank. I can’t speak for the others, but in retrospect, it changed me. It changed me to seeing the oppressed, the vicious, the holy, the evil, and the beauty in the world. It continues to humble me that a small girl could find so much positive energy in a place where she was in danger of being killed. One of the most famous lines from her diary is “In spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart.”
We often try to simplify the Bible into Old and New Testaments, Judgement and Love, Justice and Mercy. We try to find the “good” God in the New Testament and when God was harsh and vengeful in the Hebrew Scriptures. The reality is that the God that Paul says is the same “yesterday, today and forever”, is written about throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Song of Solomon, God is referred to as “a Rose maintaining its beauty among the thorns…”, a scripture that was constantly on the lips of Jewish Concentration Camp prisoners. Even in the midst of pain, fear, death, and hatred, they continued to see God for being faithful and good despite the evil in those around them.
Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise as David recounts God’s goodness and faithfulness. He tells of how God’s greatness is told from generation to generation, and how He is faithful and trustworthy in ALL of His actions and decisions. Throughout scripture, while we see how God’s people have seen that His judgment is good, His discipline is fair and how His love is poured out on all of His faithful. In a generation that sees discipline as oppressive and correction as intolerant, we stand in need of seeing that Our Good Father “disciplines those He loves” and also “upholds all who fall”.
In 2005, The Bishops, a Southern Gospel group, wrote and performed a song called “A Rose Among the Thorns”. The song details that Christ performed every miracle, withstood adversity, and directed His Followers to reject the evil that surrounded them and seek to follow regardless of the circumstances. Our “Rose among the thorns” was calling us to be light in darkness, sow goodness where there was evil, and to look to God for all of His goodness in spite of the secular laws and leaders (and the religious ones) who would oppress them and try to force them to change their view of God’s goodness. We are called to be roses among thorns, preaching Good News, and to look for the good in the world “in spite of everything”.
Do I take joy in God’s Goodness or do the thorns around me choke it out?