When A Gift Doesn’t Look Like One (Guest Post by Joy Lenton)


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

A career

Financial security.

My own strength or reliance on it

An expectation of being healthy during my ‘active’ years

Resting in my own abilities

People approval.

Hardened attitudes

Mental strongholds


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




joyJoy 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.




Would you like to guest post?


DownloadedFile-1Over the next few months I’m going to be hosting more guest posts here. I’ve already got some amazing pieces lined up for you from some amazing writers.

If you’d like me to host your writing, just go here, then you can find out more about how to submit a guest post, the guidelines, and contact details, on this page.

Though I can’t guarantee I’ll publish every post, I will read each submission & give feedback.

I’d really love to hear from you. So to find out more, just click here.





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  1. James Prescott on December 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Joy, this is such a beautiful, yet powerful post. You are so brutally honest about the reality of your life, yet also completely adamant this is a gift, not a burden. It’s a great example for all of us, thank you so much for sharing this – I know many will be blessed by it.

    • Joy Lenton on December 24, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Thank you, James, for your kind words here and for giving me an opportunity to tell my story. I am truly blessed and honoured to be here sharing your space and sharing how God is working in my life. It is great to be a guest blogger for you (at last) and I hope to be able to return again soon! Blessings, my friend. 🙂

  2. Bob Nailor on December 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Amazing how one person’s insight and open eyes to reality can reveal truths. Looking at what most would call a burden with a different perspective reveals so much more. Wonderful post and very inspiring.

    • Joy Lenton on December 24, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Yes, Bob, it is definitely a changed perspective that has enabled me to see life differently. It takes a transformed, renewed mind to look at things more as Christ does. And as a slow learner, it has taken years for me to arrive at this understanding. Thank you so much for your kind comment. Blessings 🙂 .

  3. Elyse Salpeter on December 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I don’t know. I like to think you overcame all these trials because of your strength and purpose and inner core. I like to think you were able to reach out to a higher power for help and support, but at the core, YOU are the one who really deserves the credit. Lovely post and I wish you well.

    • Joy Lenton on December 24, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Thanks, Elyse! I owe all the change in my thinking and the power to endure and persevere to God’s help and grace. Though He does require our obedience and willing co-operation to bring about a transformation in our thinking. It’s lovely to meet you. So pleased this spoke to you. I’m grateful for your kind wishes. Blessings 🙂 x

  4. Tara on December 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    What an amazing testimony! We all need to hear this message, thank you so much for being a witness of the amazing love and work of Christ.

    • Joy Lenton on December 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Hi Tara. Thanks very much for your encouraging words! I am so grateful that I have this testimony to share, even if it was forged through fire at times. God’s amazing love and grace are always worth sharing. Blessings 🙂 x

  5. Neil Bowers on December 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Isn’t it a comfort, Joy, to know that the “Higher Power” has a name, and more importantly, that God knows YOUR name, and actually loves you, offers you a personal relationship with Him, and wants to be involved in even the smallest details of your life? “Your” strength is really His strength in you, since His strength is made perfect in weakness. God bless you for putting your desire to be a blessing and encouragement to others, above the natural human tendency we all have to try to make everyone think we have it all together, even when we don’t, even when we’re weak and flawed. Your willingness to be so transparent has allowed you to help many, many people that you otherwise could not have. God bless you! Thank you for today’s thoughtful and uplifting blog.

    • Joy Lenton on December 24, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Yes, Neil, it is a tremendous comfort, reassurance, awe and wonder experience of realising we are known by name, loved beyond measure and offered a personal relationship with God. I agree that “His strength is made perfect in weakness” of whatever kind. We shine His light in our brokenness. I am so aware of my need of God, the fact that I don’t “have it all together” at all and truly depend on His strength, grace and sustaining power each day. And that awareness helps us to relate to one another in our weaknesses.
      As you are discovering, I am always open and transparent by nature and it spills out in my writing. If anything I should probably learn to be more circumspect! My childhood and past taught me to be secretive, but God teaches me to bring hidden things into the light of His presence. Darkness has to flee when exposed to His light. Thank you for finding me here and leaving one of your lovely insightful comments! Blessings 🙂

  6. Lorna Faith on December 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Love this post Joy:) God’s grace is so much bigger than the messiness of our lives…thanks for talking so honestly about the real pain you’ve lived through. Love your words ‘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.’ So true….thanks for the reminder of this gift!

    • Joy Lenton on December 24, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Thank you, Lorna! I totally agree that “God’s grace is so much bigger than the messiness of our lives”. Amen to that. He takes our mess and makes it a message; our tests become a testimony of His grace and our trials reveal His transforming power through them. I need to frequently remind myself to “not get side-lined into envy or jealousy, making unfavourable comparisons with the lives of others”. It’s so easy to do whenever discouragement or dissatisfaction are allowed space to stir up the emotions! Blessings 🙂 x

  7. James Prescott on December 25, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Loving the discussion that’s grown up here – so great to have you posting here Joy, and look forward to hosting you again!

    • Joy Lenton on December 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Thanks, James! It has been an honour and privilege guest posting for you here. And I would love to do so again in 2014. I really love the new look site too ~ it looks great with the changes you have made! Blessings in abundance on your life and writing in the year ahead, my friend. 🙂

  8. Treasure mined in darkness | Poetry Joy on December 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    […] This poem links with the theme of the blog post ‘When a gift doesn’t look like one’ that I wrote as a guest post on my writer friend James Prescott’s site. You can click here to read it. […]

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