Maybe you’ve noticed.
It seems like we turn the page of a calendar and suddenly find ourselves in the middle of the month. Whether they are well planned or uneventful, the days are fleeting. Perhaps it becomes clearer with the passage of time, but life truly is a gift given to us in 24-hour packages.
Because God is faithful in providing a sunrise each morning and sunset each night, we tend to forget that we enjoy them as beneficiaries. And, since they are presented with such consistency, it’s easy to take each gift for granted. Often we treat them as though they are rightfully ours, when, in truth, our only claim is the choice of what we will do with the one-time gift called today. That matters, for in 24 hours it will no longer be ours. Yes, we can hold the memory of past gifts as our yesterdays and anticipate new arrivals as our tomorrows, but today is where we live and our use of this gift is of utmost importance.
The wrappings change with time. In the spring of our lives, we see the gift through the wonder and delight of childhood, when the package seems bright and full of possibilities. Yet, as the seasons of life change, so does the presentation and our perspective. Though each gift holds offers of growth in character, wisdom, virtue, maturity and faith, our ability to receive such is determined by our response to the Giver.
Perhaps the continuity of the gifts cause us to believe they will always be presented, to a greater or lesser degree, in a manner that meets our expectations. And then, one arrives that doesn’t. Loss and grief is found in the package. The security we have known, the people we have loved or the institutions we have trusted are suddenly impacted by unforeseen adversity. In a moment’s time we are confronted with the unsettling reality that the circumstances contained in this gift seem unbearable and questions surface. Why would God allow this in the package? How could it possibly work for good?
We don’t reason well when we are disappointed, or devastated, and we certainly can’t see from a divine perspective. Yet God, in His providence, has designed gifts that include adversity to deepen and mature the soul. Testing and sorrow have the potential to forge character in ways not possible through ease and gain. Loss humbles us. Suffering causes us to come to terms with the limitations of our flesh and the reality of our dependence on the Giver of the gift.
The 90th Psalm records a prayer of Moses, the man of God, which contains these words:
” … The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away … So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom … Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. Let your work appear to Your servants. And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands for us.”
Within the pages of the Bible, it is clear that the people of God had no illusions that life in this fallen world would be absent of suffering. But, they also knew where their strength, hope and perseverance was found ~ in God, the Giver, Sustainer and Redeemer.
Though none of us knows what a day may hold, we can and should, make our plans in anticipation of the next gift. That is part of the joy of life. But, should it bring adversity, we must also be courageous enough to trust the heart of the Giver and not lean on our finite understanding; for He has promised to work all things together for our good ~ even adversity.
God knows us and He knows our needs. Therefore, at the center of every gift is the presence of Jesus. He comes offering strength for the day and hope for the future. Many gratefully receive Him. Some ignore Him. Others refuse him. None will escape the hour when our 24-hours gifts will be laid down once and for all. To those who received Jesus, a joyous exchange will take place. Sin and death will give way to the ultimate gift of eternal life where suffering cannot follow.
Until that hour, we have been given an opportunity to receive the gift of today from the Hand of the Giver, to use it wisely and humbly say “Thank You”.