People Give in Troubled Times
Last updated 11/16/2017 at 10:49am
"This is for you,” my co-worker said as he lifted the cork lid to the ceramic jar marked “Unsolicited Advice” that I keep filled with chocolate on top of my filing cabinet. He stuffed something in there and added. “My wife and I want to do this. It’s to help you through a hard time.”
Then he dashed off before I could say anything.
What was that all about? I wondered. I’d known Larry for many years and always felt I could be honest with him. So when he’d asked about my family, I’d told him
This time two years ago, my husband, Mark, had open-heart surgery. The multiple stents, an ablation, and other procedures he’d had over the previous few years had not cured his heart. So in early December 2015, he had gone into the cardiologist for a checkup, and they scheduled the surgery for two days later.
He came through the procedure fine. But while he regained strength, something still seemed to be wrong. A year later he was still sleeping too much, he couldn’t function well, and had other symptoms his doctor wasn’t addressing. Finally, last spring he developed a severe pain that sent him to the emergency room.
There was a tumor. Golf-ball sized. My head spun at the words “cancer,” “advanced” and “aggressive.”
When times are troubled, I’ve learned, people give. Many have given their prayers and encouragement. They’ve done so repeatedly as we’ve faced procedures and treatments and disappointments and even hopeful days. Some have given meals and gift cards to express their care and make our lives simpler.
And now I thought I’d glimpsed green in the hand Larry had slipped in my candy jar. I didn’t want to know what he’d put in there. Afraid of the awkwardness.
“Did you check your candy jar?” he asked a few days later.
So I looked in the candy jar. Yes, it was green. American currency larger than I was used to seeing.
“Larry, I can’t take this,” I said. It was hard enough accepting a pot of soup or a box filled with fajita fixings. I was raised in a family where we were the givers to those who were less fortunate and tried to help relatives. We were never receivers. I didn’t like receiving.
“This is what I must do,” he said, his dark eyes boring into mine. “My wife and I must give, and you and your husband must receive.”
People give in troubled times.
And that’s what Christmas is all about.
The clothing and settings may have been different 2,000 years ago when Christ was born. But people’s hearts were like ours. There were power struggles, political injustices and turbulent times that shifted down into heartache, abuse and everyday fears.
Into that troubled world, Creator God and Emmanuel, His newborn son, gave hope, fulfillment of faith and the gift of eternal life. God gave us the gift of Himself struggling in these troubled times with us.
Christmas is about giving.
But it’s also about receiving. Willingly accepting without fighting the givers.
Not only tangible gifts from those who are near and dear to us.
But accepting the gifts God gives to us. The gifts of peace, hope, endurance, love.
And especially the gift of Himself—Emmanuel, God With Us—the One who gives and keeps giving through the good times and the troubled times alike.
As you go through the holiday season, what gifts will you open your arms and heart to receive from Creator God?