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Come and find solace as you get to know us who share in this journey of grief. We have been praying for you and extend our deepest and sincere sympathy. We “hope” you experience comfort and peace in this safe haven of love and support.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thankful for the Thorns...

At the request of the ladies who attended our recent "Hope" Meeting in Polk City, I am posting the following story that was shared, titled Be Thankful for the Thorns, author unknown. I shared this at the meeting to challenge women to think of what they can be thankful for this Thanksgiving...even in the midst of grief. Even in light of their loss. Even in the aftermath of something so very difficult. Some of the ladies plan to share this with their families as a way of acknowledging their babies this Thanksgiving.

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:34


Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like 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 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. "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 the life of her unborn child?

"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.

"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."

"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 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, 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 learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly.

"I've always thanked God for good things in life and never 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 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 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 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 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 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?"

"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 brilliant."


What do you have to be thankful for this year? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I will be the first to share...


Teske said...

I'm thankful for the group of amazing women that I have come to know through Mommies with Hope. I detest that any of you have had to endure loss, but I am thankful that God has brought us together. You all bless me in marvelous ways and I so appreciate your encouraging and tender hearts. Thank you, God, for orchestrating everything in the way that you did for Mommies with Hope to even exist. I am especially in awe of how He chose to carry on the legacies of Chloe Marie (my daughter) and Andrew Lindsay (Lindsay's son) by forming this ministry. Lord, you love us so much!

Mattie said...

My boss actually sent me this in an email last Thanksgiving. I was due last year on Thanksgiving Day, but my daughter was stillborn at 28weeks last September. This story is always so hard for me to read because I identify with how hard Thanksgiving could be.

BUT, with that being said, I do always feel so thankful for what I have. Especially for a loving Heavenly Father that is with us even when we are in the thickest part of our grief. I am also thankful for my family and for my daughter in Heaven. Eventhough I would do almost anything to have her in my arms, so many good things have happened because of her life.

Thank you for reminding everyone to be, well, thankful!

Jenni / Jennifer Saake a.k.a. InfertilityMom said...

So beautiful! I know I have read this once, long ago. But that was before my own life ever got truly "thorny" and the story is so much more meaningful to me today. Thank you for sharing. I'll be posting this link and sending people your way!
Jenni Saake
- author, Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss
- now writing on Paul and Living with Thorns!

java diva said...

I finally read this. Wow. And that too is perfect timing. Today I spent time with God crying in my hurt of not having my baby in my arms, not seeing her have a head of hair. And then I read 1 John and finally, the first time in my life, I got it. I.GOT.IT. I have gone to church all my life, I have always felt I didn't have a story, a powerful testimony. And I think of the scripture of those love much who have been forgiven much. And of course, I am a sinner, and Jesus died for me, I get all that. But after reading 1 John and reading that we are called children of God because He loves us. I love my children, both living and dead, and long to have known my daughter who is with Him. And it hurts so deep. But God's love for me, for us, is deeper! And it took losing a child to get that. To finally get it. I have learned the most bittersweet lesson of all. Yes, it hurts what it took to learn how deep His love is, but scarier to me is I may have never had learned. He knew what had to be done to get to me. To not just know His love, but to experience it. How deep, how wide, how long, and how high it is! It's freeing and powerful and overwhelming. I was drowning in quicksand of sadness and hurt but now I am drowning in His love. And I have let go, to float on the waves. It's a freeing feeling to let go and get lost in the ocean of His love.
The thorn I will always have is the loss of lulu, of a baby I never got to know, but got to hold for a while. And His thorn brings peace and love in the hurt of my thorn. I will never have to feel the crown of thorns He wore for me, but I will always have a reminder of the pain He suffered just for me.
In all my life of being His child, I finally get what it costs. Today! What His love feels like! Makes me want to shout it from a mountaintop! I now have a story, and don't they all come with a cost?