Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a November gust and the flower shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.
During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. Even worse, Sandra’s Christian friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra, “Be thankful to God? Thankful for what? For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life but took that of my child?”
“Good afternoon, can I help you?” the clerk’s approach startled her. “I…I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra. “Do you want beautiful but ordinary or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Day Special?” asked the shop clerk.
“I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” the clerk continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?”
“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.” Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” Just then the shop door opened, and the clerk said, “Hi Barbara…let me get your order.” The clerk looked at Sandra, politely excused herself, walked toward a small workroom in the back, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Except that the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.
“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. “Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the Special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here in my heart, all over again,” she said walking out the door.
“Excuse me,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with; uh…well… she just left with no flowers!” “Right,” said the clerk, “I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.” “Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that!” exclaimed Sandra. “Oh, yes, Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today, “explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for.
She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.
That same year I had lost my husband and for the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”
“So what did you do? asked Sandra. “I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never did I ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, boy did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the flowers of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His comforting us, we learn to comfort others.”
Sandra took a deep breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God. I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life.” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too…fresh.
“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so that we might know His love. So don’t resent the thorns.”
Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out. “I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.” “Thank you,” said Sandra, “what do I owe you?” “Nothing at all Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart.
The first year’s arrangement is always on me, the clerk smiled and handed a card
to Sandra and said, “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.”
It read: “My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”
LIFE LESSON: Praise Him for your roses, thank Him for your thorns. We are to praise God in all things and consider it all pure joy. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Growing in Grace Ministries.
Please keep us in mind for year end giving. We appreciate your continued prayer and financial support. We need both to meet the ministry obligations.
Growing in His Grace,
5200 South Lakeshore Drive Suite 213, Tempe Arizona 85283