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
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
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
"Good afternoon, can I help you?"
The shop clerk's approach startled her.
"I....I need an arrangement, "stammered Sandra. "For
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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 first."
"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."