I have so many things to be thankful for this year, my amazing husband, my four beautiful children, and my wonderful friends and family. Someone had posted this story on one of the message boards I am on for parents of children with anencephaly and it really struck a chord so I thought I would share it.
THE BLESSING OF THORNS...
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
"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
"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The shop clerk's approach startled 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 '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." Then the door's small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, "Hi
Barbara...let me get your order." She politely
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. 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
Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.
"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra doubtingly. "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."
The moral of this story: Thank God for your thorns.