The Gift No One Wants
I, like many young children, used to scour the house for unwrapped Christmas presents, longing to know what I was going to receive for Christmas that year. Sometimes I would find something that I knew was to be mine in only a few more days. There was something about the search, and the finding, which made the threat of being caught worth it. My folks always purchased nice gifts for me and there was great pleasure in finding them and, ultimately, receiving them. (My mother did suspect my character which caused me to snoop and my acting ability when I tried to act like I didn’t already know what the gift was.)
God has gifts for us that, if we were to snoop through the closets, we would be pretty excited about: grace, joy, peace, love, and others. Imagine, knowing that in only a few more days that perfect peace would be given. But God has another gift that we would be pretty disappointed in discovering, either by snooping or by receiving—the gift of pain, of heartache, of disappointment.
The scriptures are clear that one of the gifts God gives His children is the gift of suffering, of trials, of pain. Why in the world would anyone ever want a gift like that? What good can ever come from pain and heartache? Why would God, who promises to work good out of all things for those who believe in Him, send trials which can have such a negative effect?
Joseph told his brothers that the evil things they had done to him they meant for evil, but God meant those same things for good “to save much people alive.” What his brothers meant as evil, God meant to be a gift.
If Joseph was consumed with living a life of ease, then the prison years in Egypt were a horrendous trial. If Joseph was interested in serving God, in doing His work and will, then the prison years led to Pharaoh’s palace and being instrumental in moving the family of Jacob to becoming the Nation of Israel.
Paul wanted the thorn in the flesh to be removed and he prayed accordingly. He could even have posted on Facebook for his friends to be praying about the thorn. Satan intended the thorn to be evil. God meant the thorn as a gift. Paul wrote, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul was faced with a choice, the same choice that we have today, either he could walk away from serving the Lord, or he could embrace the thorn.
As has been our theme in other blogs, Joseph and Paul did not waste the trial, and in embracing the trial, it became the gift God intended.
Now all of that is nice. Try telling someone who is suffering a horrendous trial that it is really a gift. Try telling yourself when you are in the depths of loss and grief that God loves you so much that He wanted you to have this heartache. It is a difficult sell. But the principle is true, God uses difficult, life-changing trials specifically because He wants them to be life-changing for us.
What is God doing in you to make you more like Him? It is the pattern of the Old Testament that the people went through cycles. God blessed them beyond measure, and they praised Him for it…and then they began to intermarry and worship the gods of the heathen. Then God would judge them, and they would go through some difficult period of time and then they would call out to Him for deliverance. He would hear, and would deliver them, and they would praise Him, and then they would find the gods of the heathen more appealing…and God would judge them and…
Trials test us. They reveal what we are made of spiritually. Will we walk away? Many did and many still do. Will we walk closer to Him and with Him? Peter spoke for the other disciples when Jesus asked them if they were going to leave Him, “to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”
Trials that cause us to run to God, are gracious gifts from the hand of the Father. He loves us too much to leave us the way we are, He sends trials to draw us to Himself. Even though it does not feel like it in the midst of our heartache—the trial is His precious gift.