In this season of gift giving you may very well receive an unwanted gift or two. You can take heart that chances are none of your gifts will be as bad as Susie’s. “Little Susie had been born with a sunny disposition and was the most optimistic kid anybody had ever seen always looking on the bright side. She loved animals and was also an artistic girl so one Christmas her parents got her a big bag of clay for making pottery. They put it on the back porch next to a bag of horse manure for the garden.
On Christmas Eve, dad wrapped the presents. It was a little dark on the porch, and as you may have guessed, he wrapped the manure by mistake, instead of the clay. On Christmas morning, Susie was so excited as she finally got to unwrap her big present as her parents watched with anticipation to see how much she liked her clay.
When Susie opened the package with the bag inside containing several pounds of stinky horse manure, the parents were aghast. But before they could apologize, Susie said, ‘Oh boy! I got a pony!’” Now that’s looking for a silver lining!
We certainly don’t expect any loving parent to purposely give such a “crappy” gift. In fact, Jesus spoke about how an earthly father- despite being “evil” compared to our heavenly Father- would never give their child a stone or a snake. As Christ said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) Compared to even the best of dads, God’s gifts are SO much better. James 1:17 reminds us that ultimately, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights”. But let me propose that while all of the presents we receive from the Father are good, at first glance some may seem “bad”.
A hardship- be it physical, financial, relational, emotional or spiritual- may be a “gift” the Lord has allowed to come into our lives for our own good. Paul says in Romans 5:3 “…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance…” What appears to be awful just may be something fortunate that God has in store for us. The key is our outlook.
If we can have an optimistic, positive approach to our struggles, just maybe we will be able to lay hold of some benefit God is trying to bring into our lives, be it godly character, an unforeseen opportunity or something the Lord wants to teach us. Certainly no one likes when life brings them a big bag of Mr. Ed’s fertilizer, but if we look closely, maybe, like little Susie, we can see past the manure to expect a pony.
I hope God gives you your perfect present this holiday.