Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes
as she pushed against a
November gust and the florist 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 annual holiday visit she coveted,
called saying she could not
come. What's worse, Sandra's 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
with a shudder. "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?"
she wondered aloud.
For a careless driver whose truck was hardly
scratched when he rear-ended
her? For an airbag that saved her life but
took that of her child?
"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The shop clerk's
her. "I... I need an arrangement, "stammered Sandra.
"For Thanksgiving? Do
you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you
like to challenge the day
with a customer favorite I call the
Thanksgiving Special?" asked the
shop clerk. "I'm convinced that flowers tell
stories," she continued. "Are
you looking for something that conveys
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."
Then the door's small bell rang, and the
shop clerk said, "Hi
Barbara...let me get your order." She
herself and walked toward a small workroom,
then quickly reappeared,
carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows,
and long-stemmed thorny roses.
Except 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,
all over again," she said as
she gently tapped her chest. "Uhh," stammered
Sandra, "that lady just
left with, uhh... she just left with no flowers!
"Right... 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. "Barbara came into the
shop three years ago feeling
very 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," continued the
clerk, "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 thought to ask Him why
those good things happened to me, but
when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask!
It took time for me to learn that dark
times are important. I 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 consolation
we learn to comfort
others. "Sandra sucked in her 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.
"Just then someone else walked in the shop.
"Hey, Phil!" shouted the clerk to the balding,
rotund man. "My wife
sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving
arrangement... twelve thorny,
long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the
clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped
arrangement from the refrigerator."Those
are for your wife?" asked
Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind me
asking why she wants something that
looks like that? "No...I'm glad you asked,"
Phil replied. "Four years
ago my wife and I nearly divorced.
After forty years, we were in a real
mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance,
we slogged through problem
after problem. He rescued our marriage.
Jenny here (the clerk) told me
she kept a vase of rose stems to remind
her of what she learned from
"thorny" times, and that was good enough
for me. I took home some of
those stems. My wife and I decided to
label each one for a specific
"problem" and give thanks to Him for
what that problem taught us. "As Phil
paid the clerk, he said to Sandra,
"I highly recommend the Special!" "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 we might
know His love. 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.
What do I owe you?" asked Sandra.
"Nothing." said the clerk. "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. "I'll
attach this card to your arrangement,
but maybe you'd like to read it
"Dear 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."