Strangely Wrapped Gifts

I agree with Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get.” The same can be said of the White Elephant gift exchange my friends and I have each Christmas. We attractively wrap items that are no longer of use – that is, if they ever were of use – to help lure an unsuspecting participant to choose it when the game begins. When the night is over, we are happy to be rid of our own hunk of junk, but we go home with someone else’s.

I once brought a coconut that was carved into a monkey’s head and came home with a miniature guitar that screeches tinny heavy metal music. Usually when I bring my White Elephant gift home, my foremost objective  is to promptly dispose of it…unless, of course…I plan to re-gift it at next year’s exchange!

When life’s troubles land on our doorstep, we want to be rid of them faster than last year’s White Elephant gift. However, some of the most treasured gifts I ever received came strangely wrapped within the package of an extremely painful time. I never would have chosen it for its outward appearance.

My husband’s illness and death were never on my gift wish-list; neither was single parenting. However, experiencing the comfort of God’s presence and His grace in the midst of that package of trials gave me a gift of faith and forced spiritual growth that I admit would not have happened in calmer times.

The loss of my husband gave me the incredible gift of perspective. The problems I have faced in the twenty years since Jon’s death pale in comparison. That, in turn, continually gives me the gift of hope: If God was able to deliver me then, I am confident He is more than able to do it now.

Another gift that comes with our pain is an equipping for ministry. The apostle Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthians saying, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Cor.1:3-4). We are uniquely qualified to comfort others facing similar trials. That, my friends, is the ultimate re-gifting experience.

A woman once called and said, “You don’t know me, but a mutual friend gave me a CD of your retreat workshop, ‘Staying Firmly Anchored in the Storms of Life.’ I just need to ask – how did you survive the death of your husband?”   Our stories were remarkably similar: We both lost our husbands to Leukemia and were left to single-parent young teenage daughters.

I shared stories of God’s faithfulness to me and my girls. She said she was encouraged, but wished she could see me face-to-face as she had so many questions. She said, “I don’t suppose you ever come to Grand Rapids” (I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, over 500 miles away). I explained that, as a matter of fact, I was coming to Grand Rapids in a few days to visit my daughters who attended college there. She graciously declined my offer to meet, “I don’t want to take time away from your family.”  My daughters had class in the morning so I assured her I was available.

We met in a coffee shop, and for three hours, exchanged stories of God’s goodness and special care for widows and the fatherless. We both went away encouraged and agreed that our encounter was another gift from God, strangely-wrapped in our mutual loss.

Most of us would not choose painful times just to receive gifts of grace, but when we rest in God’s sovereign goodness, like the psalmist, we can say, “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me” (Psalm 66:16).  Re-gifting by telling the stories of grace received may just be the best “Thank-you” we can give God in return.

Today’s Challenge: Life is like a box of chocolates: We never know what we’re going to get. When – not if – troubles come, let us tear off the strange wrapping and receive the extravagant gifts of grace offered within. Let us give thanks to the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Then, let the re-gifting begin!



  1. Carol Mashburn
    Aug 17, 2011

    Wow!….is my only comment. Regifting certainly has new meaning. Goes beyond the connotation of being too cheap or the excuse to clean out your closet. Thank you for the gift of a new perspective. Love your blogs….especially Heaven on My Mind – it truly hit home. My heart appreciates your faithfulness.

    • Kathy
      Aug 17, 2011

      Thanks, Carol! I appreciate your encouraging words. God bless you – real good!

  2. Marilyn
    Aug 18, 2011

    Kathy, thank you for using your calling & your giftedness to bless others. Those of us who have heard you speak & have read some of your writings, appreciate you & give the glory to God!

  3. faye
    Sep 20, 2011

    I so enjoy reading what you post. Ihave been blessed & encouraged by you. God bless you & continue in your writing. Faye

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