Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks 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 her? For an airbag that saved her life, but took her
"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? Do you want the beautiful but ordinary, or would you
like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the
'Thanksgiving Special'? 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
Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer,
"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 snipped:
there were no flowers.
"Do you want these 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.
Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with, uh.... she left with no
"That's 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!"
"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
"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
"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 the thought that 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
"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind
telling me why she wants a bouquet 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 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 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
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
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
"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.