“Aromatic plants bestow no spicy fragrance while they grow; but crush’d or trodden to the ground, diffuse their balmy sweets around.”
– Oliver Goldsmith (British essayist, 1730-1774)
“I just don’t know how she does it.”
Maggie could hear her two co-workers talking about her as she walked past the ward desk on her way to seeing a new patient.
“I certainly couldn’t continue working here if I was her, especially so soon.”
It had only been three months since she lost her own baby through a very late miscarriage at fifteen weeks. Everyone had been shocked, including her own doctor.
There had been no sign of anything wrong with the baby she had been carrying. But what was really hard was coming back to work.
As a nurse on the maternity ward, part of her job was counseling women facing high risk pregnancies. Maggie used to enjoy her job – she loved to help others and depended greatly on her own faith as a Christian in – but these days, it was nearly impossible to get up and go to work every morning.
She stopped and picked up the chart of a young woman that had been brought in just the night before with severe bleeding.
Sandra was a young, healthy woman that had already moved into her second trimester. As Maggie glanced through the chart, she saw a story that was very familiar.
“Good morning, Ms. Miller,” Maggie said as she came into the room and walked to Sandra’s bed. “How are you feeling this morning?”
“So-so,” Sandra said. “The bleeding is starting to ease up this morning, but I’ll feel better when I see the doctor and the test results come back.”
“Dr. Grant will see you in a little while when he does his rounds,” Maggie said, “but how are you feeling?”
Sandra sighed deeply.
“I’m guess I’m still in shock,” she said. “I thought I was passed the dangerous point; I’m sixteen weeks and I had even, or so I thought, started feeling the baby move!”
“I know what you’re going through,” said Maggie. She could hardly believe what she was saying – she had been trying her best to leave her personal problems at home. “I unexpectedly lost a baby just a few months ago in a similar situation at fifteen weeks.”
The two women found an immediate camaraderie and it wasn’t long before Maggie discovered that Sandra was also a Christian. They chatted for the next half-an-hour and agreed to end the session with prayer.
Maggie got up and started walking to the door, when Sandra stopped her.
“Thank you so much,” Sandra said.
“I’m just doing my job,” Maggie said.
“I know, but, I really didn’t think that this counseling session was going to help,” Sandra replied.
“I was sure that I was going to be talking with someone who didn’t understand, and, more important, wouldn’t relate to me as a Christian. Before you came in, I didn’t know how I was going to keep going, but now I know that I have someone else on my side – someone ‘upstairs,’ if you know what I mean.” Sandra pointed up.
Maggie smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
* * * * *
" I know your tribulation and your poverty… Do not fear what you are about to suffer… Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death."
– Revelation 2:9-11 (NASB)
John the Revelator understood trial and persecution personally, and as he wrote to the church in Smyrna. He understood that like myrrh, the herb from which Smyrna received its name, we need to be crushed before we can give forth the fragrance of Christ that entices others to His love.
Theologian John MacArthur wrote: “The more the people were crushed, the sweeter the aroma. The more they were stomped on, the more the world caught the fragrance of their faith and love. The crushed church is the fragrant church. God permitted Satan to bruise that church; the harder he bruised it, the more he released the fragrance of its grace, and the more devastating its testimony became.”
May we each learn to remain faithful through trials and tribulations so that we, too, can live a bittersweet aroma for our Lord and God.
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