Thursday, December 24, 2009

Difficult Gifts and Obedient "Thank Yous"

This morning as I was driving around finishing up a few things I was listening to KLOVE - one of the regular stations on our radio dial.  The DJs were talking about a well known Christian author, Jennifer Rothschild, and a story that she told about one of her Christmases.

They quickly patched in to the prerecorded anecdote that she was telling about a Christmas when she was about 8 years old.  She recalled that she really wanted a Barbie doll.   As their tradition the kids were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve before bed.  Jennifer KNEW that the Barbie she so desired was in THAT certain box under the tree. The children carefully chose  boxes they wanted to open... both boxes happened to be from a favorite "cool" aunt who always got the best presents for the kids.  Jennifer's brother went first - the boxes were approximately the same size.  So as her brother tore open the wrapping to reveal a G.I. Joe complete with the battle scar on his face Jennifer became excited because she just knew that her aunt had gotten her a Barbie doll.  She anxiously unwrapped the package to find a plain box underneath... she continued excitedly thinking that her aunt was just trying to be sneaky.  Each piece of tissue was carefully taken out of the box only to find days of the week underwear.  You could imagine what this 8 year old wanted to say, but as her mother smiled a "porcelain mother smile" from across the room and reminded her "What do you say?"  Jennifer obediently said "Thank you" for the unexpected unwanted difficult gift.

She went on to associate the "difficult" gift that she received with many of the "difficult gifts" that we receive in life.  Many times God allows tragedy, pain, and suffering to come in to our lives.  A loved one with a diagnosis of cancer or the loss of a child.  Financial stress or marital problems.  It may be for our growth, for our chastening,  or to draw us nearer to Him.  We usually don't know when it's coming and it's typically not a welcomed gift.  However, as Jennifer was reminded to be obedient and say "thank you" for the gift that was difficult to receive, she reminded me to say "thank you" for the difficult gifts that God will allow in my life.  Gratitude, like love, is not a feeling.  It's a choice.  We obediently choose to express gratitude not for the gift, but for the honor of the giver.  So as you face trials this year, and they will come, remember to show gratitude and heart of thankfulness to honor the Giver for whatever difficult gift you may receive, because He has His best in mind for you.

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