The Mighty Saguaro!

Arizona is home to the Mighty Saguaro Cactus. I enjoyed their splendor in the Saguaro National Park of Tucson. I’ve also seen thousands of giant saguaros dotting the landscape of the Sonoran Desert while driving Interstate 8 along the southern border of the state. It is only appropriate that the Grand Canyon State should designate the Cactus Wren as their state bird and make the Saguaro Cactus Flower the state flower. Arizonans are immensely proud of their cacti heritage!


There are several reasons why the saguaro cactus is so admired. It is stately in size and stands as the tallest cactus in the United States. Although it may take ten years to grow one inch, the average height for a saguaro is over forty feet. Biologists say they only begin to spread their branches or iconic arms after 95 to 100 years and this variety of cacti are not even considered mature until after 125 years!

Further, the waxy and thick outer skin of the saguaros protects them from excessive evaporation and makes them very water efficient. They also can split their photosynthesis process between night and day. At night, they open their pores to take in carbon dioxide to convert into oxygen. This makes them uniquely “built” for desert habitation. The saguaro cacti are quite adaptable, enduring, and resilient.

Marc's Poolside Prickly Cactus
Cacti are especially fascinating to me at several levels. I watched a lot of western television shows and movies when I was a kid. These towering cacti, like the saguaros, define the history and folklore of the great American west in all its austerity. There is a certain beauty in the desert with its intriguing expansiveness, stark sandy surroundings, and millions of cacti, both large and small, scattered throughout. I think of how courageous, inspired, and  proud settlers, throughout history, have tried to tame this majestic and often forbidding landscape.

I desire to develop these same qualities of adaptability, endurance, and resiliency in my Christian life. The word resilient (from the original Latin) is a compound meaning to bounce, leap or jump back. Literally, to recoil after adversities, challenges, or setbacks. I suspect that I am not alone in this as I have observed that many of my peers find it more difficult, with each passing year, to be resilient amid a rapidly changing culture.

The Bible shows us that Jesus was the perfect example of resiliency. Paul wrote these words to encourage Hebrew believers, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3, MSG).

Do you long for more spiritual stamina, strength, and resiliency? Like a cactus needle, is your life prickly and spiky at times? Keep looking to Jesus and you’ll bounce back. His strength, surging through us, is the shot of adrenaline we need! 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.


  1. Great story about the cactus, we all need strength like this and we have it in Jesus


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