Roses and toilet paper

Someone gave me a beautiful bunch of roses a week or so ago. Yesterday I took the last rose out of the vase. It was the only one that hadn’t wilted altogether yet and I had dried all the other rose petals as they started to wilt. I clipped the stem short and placed this rose inside a toilet roll that was standing on my desk. I looked at it and it really just seemed so out of place. A toilet roll is not the proper receptacle for a beautiful rose. Yet it doesn’t seem to worry the rose too much. It is still the same pink with darker red around the edges and it isn’t complaining at all.What if you are displaced? What if you land up somewhere, by whatever circumstances, that you never thought you would be? What if you became homeless, or had to go and live in an informal settlement without amenities? What if you didn’t know where your next meal would come from? What if everyone you know turned against you and abandoned you? It might sound far-fetched but strange things happen all the time. Nothing is impossible. I think of people in war torn countries who, through no fault of their own get put into refugee camps or whatever these camps are called. Sometimes situations become so bad during wars that people are willing to go anywhere in order to escape terror and persecution.Saul of Tarsus was born in approximately AD 5 in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia (in modern-day Turkey). He was born to Jewish parents who possessed Roman citizenship, a coveted privilege that their son would also possess. In about AD 10, Saul’s family moved to Jerusalem. Sometime between AD 15—20 Saul began his studies of the Hebrew Scriptures in the city of Jerusalem under Rabbi Gamaliel. It was under Gamaliel that Saul would begin an in-depth study of the Law with the famous rabbi.From Acts 9 to Acts 19 we find the times that Paul was persecuted. These are some of the cases that were documented:Jews plot to kill PaulPaul and Barnabas being driven out of Antioch of Pisidia.Jews and Gentiles attempt unsuccessfully to stone Paul and BarnabasJews stone Paul nearly to deathPaul and Silas are flogged and imprisoned by Gentiles in Philippi.Paul and others are chased out of successive towns by JewsPaul is made to appear before the Roman proconsul Gallop in Achaia, who dismisses the case as an internal dispute.Worshippers of Artemis in Ephesus riot against Paul and his companions, but they are not harmed.In his final journey to Rome, Paul is taken by Jews in Jerusalem to be killed, but is rescued by Roman soldiers who imprison him. He testifies before the Sanhedrin (22:30-23:11), and the governor Felix at Caesarea (24:1-27) before using his status as a Roman citizen (22:29) to have his case heard by the emperor.Even historians debate the exact date or manner in which Paul died, but it is almost universally accepted that he was martyred. Based on historical events of the day, it is likely that Paul was beheaded, possibly around the same time that Peter was crucified. All the disciples of Jesus died violent deaths, except John, who had been exiled to the island of Patmos for many years. This is where he had a vision of Jesus and wrote the book of Revelation. He was released and died as an old man.These good men were treated very badly. They were humiliated, tortured and imprisoned and even murdered for their faith. They landed up in places and circumstances they had never envisioned. Even though they went through hard times (and Paul is a shining example of this) they never complained or gave up on Jesus. They were like roses in toilet paper vases. They were the cream of the crop. The fathers of the faith and they were treated like dirt.Can we follow their example?