For my last post before Christmas, I am absolutely delighted to be welcoming Joy Lenton to the blog for the first, and definitely not the last time. Joy is a dear friend, a beautiful poet, and insightful writer. I’m certain you will be blessed by her words today, as she shares how we can find gifts in unexpected places & circumstances:
In this busy season for writing lists and buying gifts, we try to decide what to give others and may wonder what we’ll receive in return. Although not every gift is a welcome one.
God handed me a gift I have failed to receive graciously, denied I’d been given, tried to ignore, declined to unwrap or accept.
He gave me the gift of fragility and weakness.
People aren’t exactly queueing up to ask or pray for it.
I mean, how is that even a gift? Isn’t it more like a punishment?
On the outside, observing the life of a person with M.E and chronic illness which incapacitates physically and mentally, impacts every activity and causes profound fatigue, pain and weakness ~ well, who in the world would want to receive it?
Isn’t this one to hand back to God with a, “No thanks, you must be mistaken”? Which is just how we feel about so many painful and challenging circumstances.
Only…I am beginning to appreciate that He allows these things into our lives for a reason. And I’m starting to wake up to the value of this particular gift for me.
Instead of rejecting, I am learning to accept it. Not with a resigned, “I suppose I’d better put up with it” attitude, but with gratitude honed in the fires of adversity ~ only made possible by an abundant, supernatural supply of grace.
Looking at my life in a dispassionate way:childhood sexual and emotional abuse, rejection, mental health breakdown, years of deep insecurity and relationship struggles, and over twenty years of physical health challenges ~ it is not a pretty picture.
Now, I can trace God’s hand sustaining me and developing my relationship with Him as I’ve been forced by my sheer dependency to lean on solid Rock when all else crumbles into dust and ashes.
He sees all.
His view encompasses our end from our beginning.
His aim is to primarily produce Christ-like character in us, no matter what it takes.
Rooted in Christ, we are grounded in ultimate reality.
Living and abiding close to Him helps us stay on track and not get sidelined into envy or jealousy, making unfavourable comparisons with the lives of others.
I’ve needed a lot of refining, purifying, restoring and renewal, and I believe God needed time to get my attention.
In order to lay hold of this extraordinary gift of grace, I am having to lay down and let go of:
Worldly expectations, goals and opportunities
My own strength or reliance on it
An expectation of being healthy during my ‘active’ years
Resting in my own abilities
In return, God is asking me to embrace:
His thoughts and plans over my own
A purpose beyond imagination
Trusting only in Him
Seeking security in Him alone
Confidence in His ability to keep me safe
Daily dependence on His grace to sustain
Reliance on Him above all
Faith replacing fear
Release and freedom from all that holds me captive
This in no way dismisses or diminishes the stark nature of pain and problems. As I write, it is an ever-present reality. But I aim to focus more on what I’m learning through it than on how I feel.
Letting go and laying down our self-reliance is a continual process. These gifts from God come slowly and gradually because embracing the path that looks inexplicable, painful and challenging goes against our natural instincts
Often suffering swallows all sense. Or it can enlighten our senses to realms of deeper knowing and growing.
Maybe God has placed a similar ‘gift’ into your reluctant hands. Are you ready and willing to unwrap and receive it?
If so, you may find surprising treasure mined in darkness:a closer walk with God, deeper awareness of His grace, love and compassion, and a heart that has greater empathy for others going through tough times.
Unsought spiritual blessings may fall into your lap if ~ over time, with surrendered prayer ~ you let this one speak to you in its own unique way.
“Even if we may not always understand why God allows certain things to happen to us, we can know He is able to bring good out of evil, and triumph out of suffering” ~ Billy Graham
Joy Lenton is a wife, mother, newly-fledged grandma and M.E sufferer. A lot of her days are spent in PJs penning poetry and prose. She loves connecting with people, reading, drinking coffee and eating dark chocolate. Before chronic illness scuppered her plans, she worked as a nurse. Joy has a heart to support and encourage others by sharing her faith and life experiences. She blogs at Words of Joy and Poetry Joy and would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter. And you should connect with her, seriously.
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