How to Accept a Gift You Never Wanted

I vividly remember the night before Christmas when I was nine years old.

One of our family traditions was that each child got to open one gift on Christmas Eve.

Each year, my brothers and I spent most of the month deciding which gift that would be. We began our research in early December, and as each gift appeared beneath the tree, we carefully examined it, checking the weight and shape of each box, looking for clues to what was inside. As you can imagine, by Christmas Eve the gift we had chosen to open had become the most coveted one under the tree.

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That year my brother, Lawson, and I both chose a gift from Aunt Patti. (Our brother David was a baby and still too young to care.) Aunt Patti was young and hip. She knew what kinds of presents kids liked, and now she joined my parents on the couch to watch the events unfold.

Lawson went first.

He carefully removed the wrappings — and there was a brand new GI Joe action figure! It had been on his list, so, boy, was he excited!

My mother taught me to always honor the giver by gratefully receiving their gift.
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I was excited, too, because it confirmed my hopeful suspicion that my gift from Aunt Patti was the number one thing on my wish list — a Barbie doll.

My gift was in a rectangular-shaped box. It wasn’t the traditional box that a Barbie doll came in, but I was convinced that Aunt Patti was just trying to fool me. I pulled off the narrow rectangular top, peeled back the tissue paper… and there were seven pairs of neatly rolled underwear.

Underwear!

I wanted a Barbie doll, not underwear!

Being thankful in all circumstances shows that we’re acting in accordance with the will of God.
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I didn’t even care if I wore underwear.

My mother obviously noticed my disappointment because without hesitation, she said, “Jennifer, what do you say to Aunt Patti?”

“Thank you,” I said.

Now, why did I say thank you for a gift that I hadn’t asked for and, obviously, didn’t want?

I can struggle with ungratefulness when my eyes are fixed fiercely on the gift instead of the giver.
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Because from as early as I could remember, my mother had taught me that I was always to receive whatever anyone gave me and say thank you for it. She had instilled in me how important it is to always honor the giver by gratefully receiving the gift.

So, one reason for saying thank you was to honor Aunt Patti.

Another was that it was my mother’s will… and I knew that I would be a lot happier if I obeyed her!

Being thankful in all circumstances shows that we’re acting in accordance with the will of God — who always gives us what is best for us.

One reason many people struggle with bitterness and ungratefulness is that…

…they’ve never learned to receive difficult gifts.

Blindness is just one of many such gifts. Illness, broken relationships, wayward children, and financial strain can be very hard to receive… much less be thankful for.

If we fix our eyes on God, we can see beyond the difficulty of the gift into the heart of the Giver.
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But the interesting thing is that God expects us to be thankful anyway. “Give thanks in all circumstances,” the apostle Paul reminds us, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Often, we struggle with an attitude of ungratefulness because our eyes are fixed so fiercely on the gift.

Some things that God allows to come into our lives are genuinely hard to be thankful for. But, if we fix our eyes on God, we can see beyond the difficulty of the gift into the heart of the Giver.

Regardless of whether we asked for it, or want it, it’s a gift of God’s grace and our response should always be to receive it with thankfulness.

Faith is the most essential ingredient for gratefully receiving whatever gift God lovingly allows.
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Faith is the most essential ingredient for gratefully receiving whatever God lovingly allows. And, faith can also be the greatest source of blessing in our lives when we learn to look at our lives from the right perspective.

Is your response to difficult gifts based on your feelings about the gift itself, or on your desire to honor the Giver and do His will?

Is your closed fist extended in anger, or is your open hand lifted to Him in praise?

Only an open hand receives the blessings that accompany difficult gifts, and sometimes it’s only in a package wrapped in heartache that we receive the fullness of God’s grace.

Question: What gift has been difficult for you to be thankful for?