Friday, February 20, 2009

Thorny Times

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the
florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as
sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second
pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was
Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant
son. She grieved over their loss.

Troubles had multiplied.

Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new
location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her
long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that
Sandra's 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. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when
he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life, but took my

"Good afternoon, can I help you?"

Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. "I . . . I need
an arrangement," stammered Sandra

"For Thanksgiving? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories, " she
continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this

"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 clerk said, "I
have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new

"Hi, Barbara, let me get your order." She excused herself and walked
back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an
arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed
thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly s nipped:
there were no flowers..

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched - 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.

Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with . . .. uh . . .. she
left with no flowers!"

"That's 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 as you do today," explained the
clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just
lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had
gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I
had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "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 much 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 the good things in my life and I never questioned
Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I
cried out, 'Why? Why me?!' It took time for me to learn that the dark
times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of
my life, but it took the 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 what 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!" the clerk greeted 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
telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"

"Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced," Phil replied. "After
forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and
guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our
marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems
to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. 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 for what that
problem taught us."

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the

"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
the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential
care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that 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 her 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

"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 colors of Your rainbow look much more

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

God Bless all of you. Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.

"Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the
rest to God."

We often try to fix problems with WD-40 and Duct tape.

God did it with nails.


Romans 8:28.."For we know that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and
are called according to His purpose."


Lisa Buffaloe said...

This is an awesome story, Karen. Puts life back in perspective. Thank you for sharing.

bondservant said...

Yes, it does kind of put things in a different light. Thanks for taking the time to read it, Lisa. I love reading your blogs!