Today is the birthday of 3 very important people in my life. It is also, incidentally, my cat’s birthday, as well. (He’s 13 years old today!! I know that makes you happy. LOL) All of that means this is a big day for me. Why ME? Well, because I’m always excited to celebrate the day that God decided to pack so many wonderful blessing into my life!
Speaking of celebrating…have you ever gotten a present that…well…it was hard to celebrate? I mean, you KNEW that person meant well (or at least you HOPED they did!), but you HAD to wonder what they were thinking when they picked that particular gift out for YOU! Maybe it wasn’t the right size or maybe it showed up in your least favorite color or flavor. Perhaps you even considered if it might even be a joke…one you weren’t privy to or didn’t really find funny.
The main thing you have to consider about gifts that come to you like that is who is giving them to you. The individual who brought the present is the main determinate for me when I get something like that. It is the person who chose it–and not the one receiving it (me…or you?)–that helps me decide what emotion my face, my voice, my words, and even my attitude going forward will be.
That’s an especially good thing to consider when the Giver happens to be GOD…and the gift is something WAY less than you’d ever hoped or dreamed about receiving. THAT is when it becomes really critical to know all you can about the Giver.
The Giver. Yep. That’s one of His many names. In fact, 1 Peter 5:10 spells it out even plainer when Peter–the ULTIMATE reactionary when receiving/hearing anything he didn’t like!–tells us this:
And God, the giver of all grace, who has called you to share His eternal glory, through Christ, after you have suffered for a short time, will Himself make you perfect, firm, and strong.
I don’t know about you, but that verse has some pretty stout stuff in it for me right now. It has felt more personal these past few months than it has in quite some time. Why? Because some people I love are having a pretty hard time of things right now and because I love them so dearly, that means my life is affected, as well. Right now I’m tired. I’m tired of waiting for the phone to right with good news. I’m tired of seeing the texts that say my prayers aren’t being answered…yet. I’m sick to death of seeing people I love struggle with hard things like mental illness, physical pain, substance abuse, and not knowing what to do or who can help them or their loved ones. I’m ready to see some solutions, sing some praises, and dance in victory over some of these things!
In his book, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, Francis Chan asks the following question:
“…Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?”
Well, phfft! Why did he have to go and make Scripture practical again?! (You know I’m kidding, right?! Scripture is ALWAYS practical. WE–and our interpretations of it!–are the ones who all too often aren’t.)
And yet, long before Frances was ever a thought, Peter drove right up beside all of our hard circumstances and told us that God is the Giver of Grace. Grace means “unmerited favor” and, I’ll be perfectly honest with you and say that some of what is going on in my life NEEDS some Grace, but it doesn’t feel very much like it has arrived just yet.
Some of us are right smack-dab in the middle of those “suffering” times and it can be mighty difficult to see those times as a gift, and yet, (oh, how I love that word!) because we know the Giver, we can also have some hope. Oh, we’re always ready to share in some of that glory and who doesn’t want to be considered “perfect, firm, and strong” in life?!
It’s the getting to it–or, rather, the getting through to it–when the going gets rough and the cheering crowd gets a little thin that we have to gather up all we know about the goodness of our God and keep moving. Hard or not. Cheers or not. No matter what hard thing we are facing right now, we need to remember this, as well:
- For right now, He is giving us the GIFT of greater dependence on Him. While we long for INDEPENDENCE, He knows it is best for us to be IN Dependence on Him—and who would seek it if we all remained comfortable and able to completely handle quickly and efficiently every circumstance that comes our way?
- ALSO right now (YES! In the MIDDLE of our hard time!!), He STILL has a plan–and it is for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- AND right now, He is right there beside us…in this thing–whatever it is!–with us! (Hebrews 13:5) We are NOT alone!!
Take courage, friends, there IS a way through and His name is Jesus. There IS a Plan, a Planner, and a Giver Who knows exactly what we need even when we fail to recognize it, like it, or appreciate the value of it in the midst of receiving it.
I’m counting on it. Better yet, I’m counting on HIM. I hope you are, too.
So, Happy Birthday to all of my loved ones and Happy IN Dependence Day to us all! While we’re here, we might as well celebrate!
Grace and Peace!