“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:11, KJV).
My daughter is almost 2. Every day I give her all of me. I serve her, I wash her, I feed her, I play with her, and I teach her. She is thankful when I play with her and give her things she wants. She smiles and fills the room with laughter. She has even learned to say thank you. When she is pleasant and willing and cheerful, I say thank you too.
But sometimes I must utter the words she knows well and dislikes greatly: “no” and “naptime.” She is not thankful in that moment. She cries, she resists, she protests, and she is sure she doesn’t feel my love. She is unable to understand yet why everything can’t always be just the way she wants it. She never says thank you then, because she does not know that everything I do is for her good.
The sky outside is cloudy, threatening more of the same rain, snow, and ice that we have seen all winter. Laundry has to be put away. Dishes are piling up in the sink. Cheerios are scattered on the floor, and strange sticky substances line the table. My daughter is whining for my attention. My husband is hungry. I feel as though I’m fighting off another cold, and I just want to sleep. I ask God for rest, but I do not get any. The familiar pressure of complaint is rising in my head, and I want to run away. I am not thankful for this day. It is then I realize I am not much different than my little girl in understanding that all God gives is for my good.
Whenever things are pleasant for me, I thank my heavenly Father willingly, joyfully, and I feel His love. But when things hurt, days are hard, and nothing seems to go my way, I clench my fists, I fight the moment, I complain. I think my Father has forgotten about me and does not care. There I am, like a toddler on the floor throwing a tantrum. Yet God is still there—in every moment, serving me, feeding me, loving me, teaching me. And there I am, ungrateful and unwilling to accept what He is giving me.
Will I open my clenched fists and accept these moments as gifts of love? Will I stop for a second and see the brightly colored woodpecker on our feeder eyeing me? Will I notice the warm fire sparkling brightly in our large wood stove? Will I notice my husband trying to help, trying to cheer up our daughter with his gentle voice? Will I remember that the joyous color and scent of springtime always, without fail, follows after the dark winter? Will I gratefully see these gifts of love all around me and recognize that the pain and hard work is what makes me blossom and grow?
When I give thanks for everything, it is then I see clearly that my Father’s heart is always toward me. It is then that I must know that I am His beloved child. I will see that God has been and always will be like a loving parent, giving His all for me. I will have the faith of a child who has learned to trust in their Father’s wisdom and rely on His protection.
When God asks me to take His hand to cross a rough and raging river, a dry desert, a busy street, I will open my hand to take His, believing I can trust Him entirely. For where He leads me and what He gives me is all good, all love, all a gift.