Gift, “a thing given willingly to someone without payment.”
Picture this: a thief breaks into your home and steals nearly everything you own. You are devastated, and all you can see are the things that have been taken from you. As the dark days go by following this tragic event, you begin to notice small things around the house that you did not buy. They are simple. Seemingly of no consequence. Like a brand new pencil sitting on the table by your journal that just so happens to be your preferred brand. A single fresh rose petal lying on your bathroom counter. A pack of your favorite gum in your coat pocket. That key you lost months ago and still haven’t replaced. Some are practical, like the pencil, while others are impractical but carry meaning and beauty.
As the days and the small gifts go on, you begin to look for them more and more. Hunting under the bed, eyes searching counters, hands threading through things on the pantry shelves. You begin to wonder who in the world could be doing this. At first you thought it only a coincidence. Then you thought it seemed arrogant to believe someone would be doing all of this for you. But now that you’ve begun looking and seeing, making an effort to find at least that one gift you know will be there everyday, you realize you have a secret friend.
It might disturb you at first because they have been in your house, and that lack of control scares you. But over time you begin to feel affection for your new friend, to trust them, to feel safe, not only because of the gifts, but because the gifts seem so perfect and specific and tailor made for you.
Whoever they are, they know you, and even though you don’t know them and have never done anything for them, it is clear that they love you dearly, tenderly.
So you decide to begin leaving them small gifts. You can’t do it often because you are still suffering financially and emotionally from the theft, and you feel your gifts are perhaps inadequate and insignificant and can’t possibly count for much, but then you remember the rose petal. And the pencil. And how they were given with no attempt at grandeur. They weren’t embarrassed to give such small tokens, so you realize you shouldn’t be embarrassed at your attempts either.
Sometime after these consistent exchanges between you and your friend, every now and then, your friend leaves you a very expensive gift that is more than you ever could’ve imagined. It is very rare, and therefore more precious, not only because you didn’t buy or earn it (none of your gifts could ever come close to the expense of these), but because it is from them. Your friend. The meaning and value has begun to lie in the giver instead of the gift. Which means you can accept the small and the large equally. All that matters, is it’s from them to you.
This, my friends, is an example of my relationship with the Lord. He is my friend, and everyday I have learned to look for at least one gift from Him. It was not an overnight transition, but rather born from years of gifts and years of looking, and even now, after seeing all of the gifts He’s given me, and knowing how much He loves me, sometimes I am too selfish to spend those extra few minutes looking that day, even though I know it’s there, or I am so angry, I don’t look on purpose, as a way of hurting Him.
And yet…He continues to give me gifts everyday. They are usually small. Innocuous. Momentary, even.
But they are gifts all the same.
So as each day passes during this pandemic, dear friend, know the Lord sees your suffering (Psalm 56:8). He weeps with you (John 11:33-35). He intercedes for you (Romans 8:26). And if you look…you will find the smallest gifts everyday, from Him to you. A beautiful sunset. The hot water lasting longer than you expected so you can have those glorious extra five minutes in the shower. Zero traffic on your way to work when you’ve had a rough morning. You can’t afford to fix your damaged driveway, but you notice one day that your favorite wildflowers are growing out of the cracks. The sound of the wind in the leaves that reminds you of a sweet childhood memory you’d long forgotten.
Each one is a gift, just for you, and focusing on that, and the Giver, will help take your eyes off of everything else, even if it’s just for a moment.
And one day, perhaps you will begin leaving gifts for others, knowing that when you do, you are also leaving gifts for Him…
Blessings, dear friend, and may the Lord comfort you in this time.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV)