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Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a November gust and the door of the florist’s shop.
Her life had been easy, until in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident resulted in a miscarriage. 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 visit she had looked forward to, called saying she could not come for the holiday.
Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? she wondered. 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?” asked the shop clerk.
“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 favourite I call the Thanksgiving Special?” asked the shop clerk. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories. 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’s doorbell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi, Barbara... let me get your order.” She excused 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.
“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. And she left with her order.
“Uh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uh....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. Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today. 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, had just spent 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 learnt to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly.
“I’ve always thanked God for the good things in my life and never questioned the good things that happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask questions! 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 consolation we learn to comfort others.”
Sandra sucked in her breath. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”
“Well,” the clerk replied, “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?”
“Nothing. 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 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 colours of your rainbow look much more brilliant.”
Praise Him for your roses; thank Him for your thorns!