Common Periwinkle

This periwinkle is pleasant enough, perhaps even worthy of passing comment, but little more. Yet Catharanthus roseus, to use its Latin name, has been used in the chemotherapeutic treatment of cancers within the drugs vincristine and vinblastine. I have seen chemotherapy in action, and often thought its effects worse than the disease it treats. Nevertheless, it can extend one’s earthly life by months or years and is usually thought a price worth paying. Who would have thought that such a common plant would contribute such a remarkable, if unpleasant, cure?

So too, Christ’s cross. Though shameful and agonising for Him, it proves wonderfully healing and life-giving to we who believe. It is a common enough sight on churches and on jewellery, but it is more remarkable for the vital effects it has on dying sinners.

When sin had sadly made,
’Twixt wrath and mercy, strife,
Our dear Redeemer dearly paid
Our ransom with his life.
Faith gives the full release;
Our Surety for us stood;
The Mediator made the peace,
And signed it with his blood.

Joseph Hart, Gadsby's Hymns, No 130