This morning when my husband prayed with me before he left for work, he prayed something that has been lingering with me all day. He prayed that we might be thankful for all the gifts that God has given us-family, jobs, warm house, etc-but that we might be in love with the giver regardless of the gifts. This was on the heels of texting with someone whose baby is in the NICU and doesn't feel like her gift is fair. *She actually told me that she's done being a mom, it's too hard. Thinking of her and remembering back to my own baby in the NICU just over a year ago, I really wanted to think about loving the Giver and not just loving His "good" gifts.
What is "good"?
I think that our perspective is tainted. I believe that when sin entered the world back in the garden we all lost the ability to see things how God does. Now we see things through a self-focused lens and lose sight of the eternal so easily. I remember right after my brother, Joe, died thinking, "If this is you loving me perfectly, I'm not sure I want your perfect love." I believe that it's good to be honest about these questions. This world is painful and hard. What we do with that pain and heartache is the question and makes all the difference. The Bible says in Romans, "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." If I keep this in mind, that all things are working together for good, then I can have confidence in the midst of the painful. We might not always see the good or feel very good, but we can always trust that He is good. He says so in His Word. He is unchanging, so even if our circumstances change, we can trust that He will not.
Loving the Giver of the Gifts
When my husband said that during our prayer time, I immediately thought about times when he has given me gifts that were less than what I had hoped for or expected. My husband is a pretty good gift giver, but occasionally he misses the mark a little. For my thirtieth birthday, I was kind of hoping for a surprise party or at least a big deal to be made, but he got me a new Bible and tickets to a concert. Not terrible gifts by any means, but he hadn't realized that I had recently bought myself a pocket-sized Bible. I definitely don't mean to speak poorly of my husband, but it illustrates my point well. Here's the thing, as much as my husband loves me, I know that God loves me more. When my husband gives me a gift, it is thought out in his finite mind and even when he gives me something that isn't my most favorite, I still love him just for thinking of me. How much more praise and thanks and gratitude then should I give to God, who in His infinite power, wisdom and resources, gives me things that don't seem "perfect" or "good" to my finite mind. He loves me perfectly and I can trust in Him.
So as Christmas gets packed back up, remember the One who gave the perfect gift of His Son. When you start to question how good some of the other gifts are in your life, remember that the lens you're looking through is stained with sin and ask Him to give you His eyes to see. Then thank Him for loving you perfectly.
One last disclaimer, this is not an area that I have mastered. Lest you think I walk around shouting praises and thanks in the midst of my four sick kids, I am praying as I type this, for the words to sink in deep to my heart. Praying that I would stop trying to do this life on my own, in my own strength because I think my good might just be better than His. Praying that I would hunger for His Word and His pleasure, not for acceptance and affirmation from those around me. Pleading with Him to be gentle with me as I see more of my own sin and let Him chip it away. And lastly, praying that these words might encourage someone else, that we all might remember that He is good and His love is perfect.
1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear."
*Before you get too concerned, she has loving family surrounding her, who are looking into postpartum depression and are, as I did, pointing her to her Heavenly Father. If you feel so led, please pray for my friend, that she might turn to the Lord and not from Him during this time. Thanks!