In a late night phone conversation, a friend and I discussed the trials and struggles we had collectively experienced over the last few years. She recounted a night in the midst of her family's financial crisis where they hit a low point.
"We were in the deepest pit. We were so depressed. Finally, we opened up the Bible and preached ourselves happy again!" she laughed.
As the time neared eleven o'clock, we had concluded that while neither of us enjoy pain or sorrow, there was a resounding gratitude towards the Lord for the refining work He does through it. We meditated on how we could see each situation as a display of God's love and mercy towards us--and we could only thank Him for it!
"But be careful," my friend warned, "Sometimes we get so used to the Lord teaching us through hardships, that it becomes easy to overlook His love shown through blessings."
She was right. It is my tendency to see God's sovereign hand leading me through the valleys, only to overlook it when I am in the meadowland. Almost like a kid who feels his dad's love when he takes the car keys away, but never acknowledges the fatherly love shown when his dad bought him the car.
The day after our late night conversation, I was given an object lesson in this truth.
I took my boys to Hatcher Garden's--a ten mile nature preserve nestled into a commercial area of the city where we live. Almost immediately we fell in love with this beautiful place. As far as nature walks go, Hatcher Gardens is decidedly orderly, but instead of feeling sterile, it feels as if you have been included in the preservation project. Such care is shown in the way each flower, bush, and tree is tended.
Right in the middle of the garden is a tiny waterfall, lit up by sun that streams through the trees overhead. As the boys climbed the steps built alongside the waterfall, I headed for the bridge that straddled it. It was then I looked up and noticed the inscription on the header.
The bridge overlooked the waterfall for years before we moved to South Carolina. It was not built for me. But I did feel the love of the Father that day as I stood on the bridge that bears my name. I know that He led me to it. I could feel Him rejoicing when I found this special place and how much He delighted in showing it to me.
I am so grateful for "the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God" (I John 3:1 partial). No matter what package they come in--sorrows or blessings--our Father gives the best gifts.