The rose is one of the most iconic and recognizable flowers, symbolizing love, beauty, war, and even politics. As some of the most popular flowers around the globe, they’re often considered the grandest and most beautiful—proved by their expansive presence in history, literature, and the arts.
It’s no wonder the whole month of June is dedicated to them. With the variety of colors and sizes, they’re the flower of choice for birthdays, special dates, anniversaries, and holidays. The Society of American Florists estimated that 198 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day alone in 2010.1
Like most of God’s creation, their worth is deeper than lush outward beauty. Rose hips are high in vitamin C. Rose oil purportedly acts as an antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, and astringent, among other benefits.2 In India, rose water is used as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.3 And let’s not forget Turkish delight, a rose-flavored dessert made popular in the West thanks to C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The rose is supposedly a very old flower in the fossil record, showing up in deposits in Colorado, Oregon, Montana, and China. Many scientists date these fossils at over 30 million years old. However, we know from the Bible’s record that the earth is only about 6,000 years old. Therefore, rose fossils likely formed in the worldwide flood of Noah’s day.
God created the Rosaceae family in the garden of Eden with other vegetation on the third day of creation (Genesis 1:11–13). But God’s original roses would not have included prickles (what we commonly call thorns), making them a prime example of a perfect creation marred by sin.
In his benevolence, God created living things with the ability to adapt. After Adam and Eve sinned and the earth became cursed, many organisms adapted to the new fallen world: animals now hunted each other, so creatures developed defense-attack structures which helped keep them alive. The ground became cursed, and weeds populated the earth. Plants grew thorns and thistles, which protected them from men and other attackers, for God said, “Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you” (Genesis 3:18).
Though our world is cursed and groans for deliverance (Romans 8:22), our Creator did not remove all the pleasures of his creation. There are thorns and thistles on flowers, but God has blessed us with beauty from the vastness of the galaxies to the array of plants and blossoms that color the world. Like its Creator, the rose signifies beauty, love, and presence in history and politics throughout the ages.
This month, take time to smell the roses, and while you do, thank God for his beautiful creation, which he’s given us to enjoy.