what to do with the hard gifts

This is my favorite week of the new year - the week Bible Study starts back up at my church after taking a break for the holidays. I love digging into the Word with my friends and let's just face it, I need it. I have always been a social person and there is just something about getting together with a bunch of lovely ladies to learn and discuss and sometimes argue over scripture that just sets my heart on fire. I know some women who absolutely hate this kind of thing. A room full of opinionated Bible readers is the last place on earth they would tread. But not me, it's my happy place. 

This semester we are studying the sermon on the mount through a study by Jen Wilken, a Texas gal, gotta love her for that! Today was week three and I have already been so challenged and encouraging it's amazing! 

Jesus' longest recorded sermon starts with a list of "blesseds" call the beatitudes. 

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
— Matthew 5:2-12

I was struck by this list for the particular reason that I think Jesus intended. We don't naturally think that these types of people are blessed. We default to thinking that the powerful, wealthy, famous, and talented are the blessed ones. We think that God wants us to have an easy life. That everything good comes from the Father (which it does) but we forget that hard things come from the Father too, and that makes them good. His ultimate aim for our lives is not that we are happy and content and feel really warm and fuzzy all the time. Rather that we bring him glory by enjoy Him. He knows where we will find true joy and peace - with Him.

We can only get to Him to have that joy and peace through His Son.

And we can only find the Son when we realize our own sin, {blessed are the poor in Spirit)

and it breaks us{blessed are those who mourn}

and we truly understand that trying to stand on our own before a Holy God is utterly hopeless, {blessed are the meek}

and we are starved for a way to make it better. {blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness}

we forget that hard things come from the Father too, and that makes them good

So, God, in His infinite love and wisdom will bring things, sometimes hard, ugly, messy gifts, into our lives to make this happen. Initially to reconcile us with himself through the blood of his Son, and then to continue to draw us near to him because once is not enough for us. We need constant reminding. 

So please don't assume that anything hard in your life is from Satan. Hard things are gifts from God and we can choose to joyfully accept the gift, say thank you, and let God use it for it's intended purpose in refining us, or we can snub our nose at the gift and blame the giver for messing up. 

I'm not saying that you can't be sad, or have pain, or questions. These are acceptable emotions while receiving a hard gift, so long as you believe the gift giver is good and loves you and this will be used to bring him glory in a way you may never fully know, and you are okay with that.