Natalie Widener

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 16-18 (NIV)

I am by nature a gift giver. I love to give people things that I know will make them happy and will make them feel loved and special. I do this a lot with my children. Giving them special items they have been wanting or working hard to earn brings a joy to my heart!

Isn’t that how God sees gift giving to us, His children? To those who have put their entire trust in Him? Oh, how delighted God must feel when He presents us with something we have been praying, and praying, and praying for. Just like when I get excited watching my children open a present they have been waiting for…I rejoice in their joy!

What about those “gifts,” though, that we don’t want? I remember the face my daughter gave me when we purchased the “wrong” bike when she turned five…the look of, “Really, Mom? This wasn’t the bike I was thinking of.” As funny as it was at the time, I’m sure I have made that same face when God has presented me with “gifts” I didn’t want, gifts I would have liked to return. Have you had any of those gifts? Gifts such as the loss of a job, a crazy hectic day that won’t end, or even the death of a parent?

Now I’m not saying God gives us those heartbreaking things, but He does allow the bad things to happen. I have experienced heartbreak from those things God has allowed to happen in my life. When my son died, I never thought I’d experience joy again! But I have allowed God to use my situation and the heartache, and today I can feel joy again. Although I wouldn’t pick out that “gift,” it has been the most wonderful blessing for my life, as I have grown closer to God and made beautiful, life-changing friendships. God even graciously blessed our family with another son who exuberates pure JOY! I love God and I can’t understand His ways or His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). But I do know that Jesus loves me, and anything toward me is never to harm me, but only is for my good (Jeremiah 29:11).

Friends, what I’m saying is God is a gift giver! Every day He gives us something to be joyful about. He gives us bright sunrises and glowing sunsets. He gives us the breath in our lungs, and the ability to feel, and to love, and to share JOY with those around us. This Christmas season, share that joy with someone. Give a gift of love to someone who needs to know God’s love. Send a handwritten card or note. Tell someone you love them and you care about them. Be joyous, because God tells us every day there is something to be joyful for. This day, choose joy, friends, because every day there is something gifted to us that we can find JOY in.

Love and prayers.

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Psalm 28:7 (NLT)