It started out as any other spring, Sabbath morning. The birds chirping outside our window, the warm breeze lifting the curtains, the sky a rosy glow as the night gave way to the glories of a new day. A perfect day. The Sabbath.
We had started on our breakfast when it hit me, and froze me in place. Today was the day before Mother’s Day. Today they would honor the mothers at church. I took a deep breath, and my husband, Greg, looked at me quizzically across the table. “What’s wrong, sweetie?”
I sighed again as I tried to answer. He reached over and gently took my hand. “Is it because today is the Mother’s Day program at church?” I nodded, not sure how to express how I felt. But he already knew. We’d been traveling on this journey for several years. This dream of a baby to hold and love, a little one of laughter and light, a son or a daughter to treasure and teach. We’d faced Mother’s Day’s before, but always with the hope, the dream, of maybe this time next year. . . But this particular Mother’s Day was different.
Greg and I held hands on our short drive to church, as if, somehow, we could gather strength from each other to make it through the day. We greeted our church family with smiles and handshakes and warm hugs, trying to focus on others instead of ourselves. The morning passed quickly and all too soon came the time I had dreaded. The time set aside to honor all the mothers in our church.
I was in my usual spot at the piano. Several ladies were at the podium with beautiful long stem roses. They were calling out the mothers in the congregation. The oldest? The youngest? The one with the most children? I shut my eyes and tried not to listen, only to have the words of the doctor replay in my mind like a broken record. Over and over, over and over. It had been only two months since we had found out. Two months since the last of several doctor visits that had dashed our hopes and dreams. Two months since those words – infertile, rare – and the most confusing one – We just don’t know why. The voice from the lady at the podium broke into my thoughts. “And now, we would like the children from our congregation to come up and give these roses to our mothers.”
I began to play as the mothers stood and kids came up from all over the church to pick up a rose for their mom. As I played, my mind wandered. Unless you work a miracle, God, I will never be a mother. Never have the joy of having a child, of raising one for You. Tears welled up in my eyes as I struggled to keep them in check. I looked out over the congregation and caught the eyes of Greg. Pain was etched in his face. I knew how deeply he hurt, too. I lost the battle with my emotions as the tears spilled over and ran down my face. Carefully turning my head, I shook my hair over my face so nobody would notice. Obediently, my hands still traveled over the keys, still hit the right notes, while my heart cried inside. Oh, Father, why does it hurt so much?
Suddenly, I heard a noise to my right. A single pink rose was being placed on the piano. I heard a soft voice say, “My mom said to give you this rose.” The girl turned and left the platform. “Thanks,” I whispered after her retreating figure. How like my friend, I thought. She didn’t know I was hurting today, but she wanted me to know that she cared for me on this day, of all days, and she sent her daughter up to the piano to give me the rose. Instantly, I felt God speak to my mind. Not an audible voice, but a whisper, like a soft caress. Jill, I may not have given you a child, but I’ve given you a wonderful friend. I love you, and I want to give you only the best gifts.
I knew what those gifts were for me. The gift of a godly, caring husband, of friends and family; the gift of a God who loved me and understood what I was going through; the gift of a friend who followed the prompting of His Spirit and reached out to show me Jesus’ love through the simple gift of a red rose.
Do Greg and I have children yet? No. Do we ever ask why? Sometimes. But we can rest content in His arms, knowing that He knows the very best path for us to travel; that someday, at last, the pain of a rose will give way to the untold glories of eternity. Dear friend, I don’t know what painful and thorn-filled path you’re traveling on today. But know this, our precious Savior does. He’s traveled it before us. And someday, all the thorns and thistles here below will be forever plucked off, and all we will have left is the scent of the rose.