Unexpected Gifts as Holidays Approach



As the holidays approached, I wondered how I would meet them. Yet another specialty medication wasn’t panning out in the way we had hoped, and I found myself in a full-blown rheumatoid arthritis flare, longing for any kind of relief from the pain. I called my rheumatologist to report on my condition, and his instructions were, “Lay low and be patient. We have to wait three months before your insurance will accept another change.” Reluctantly, I agreed to restart my prednisone, the only pain relief available for the moment, even though I knew it came with its own set of poor reactions. Unexpected gifts?

God, where are you? And why are none of my usual coping methods acceptable any longer?



I used to be really good at “walking it off” when my mind filled with darkness, and the satisfaction of a job well done could lift my eyes away from my problems, giving me a jolt of hope that maybe my problems weren’t so all-consuming after all.

But now? There was no walking or chore or service that my body would allow. Caring for my basic needs took every available ounce of strength.

The low point came when I looked at the calendar and realized that Thanksgiving was only a few weeks away. We love when our adult children and their families gather at our home as we cook and eat our way through a day of feasting and fun, but this year something had to give. There was no hope that I could prepare for that kind of gathering. However, God had unexpected gifts as the holidays approached.




So we all agreed to meet at our favorite restaurant and eat our Thanksgiving Dinner gathered around a public table, squeezed into booths and tables shoved together. The laughter flowed, the kids were too loud, and Grandpa’s “Dad-Jokes” made us all roll our eyes. We welcomed the unexpected gifts of love and fun.

No one was disappointed.

Except for me. I still had not allowed my heart to find the change that God offered me. I did not even think of looking for unexpected gifts.



As Thanksgiving wound down, my daughters-in-law and daughter approached me with a suggestion, and I tried to be gracious. “Let us prepare everything for you when we gather at home this Christmas. It’ll be our gift to you.” Maybe it was an unexpected gift, but I wasn’t ready for it.

I wish I could say I smiled and laughed and received their unexpected gifts with joy. Instead, I cried. At least I was honest when I asked them to pray for me. “This is such a hard thing for me to surrender.”




It took the words of a dear friend to shake my heart out of its dry-as-a-desert-place. “You had better receive their gift to you. After all, they are giving the kindness you taught them throughout their years of growing up.” The same kindness I had taught them was now showing up as an unexpected gift from God during this holiday season.

Did I follow her advice or sit in the corner and sulk because I couldn’t make all the cookies, decorate all the rooms, and craft all the gifts the way I once did? Well, I had moments of contemplating that, but thankfully I heard a more precious word from my Lord that caused me to change my perspective. His unexpected gifts were blessings to me.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17}




Even if our movements change and our tasks shift, the giving of our Father is always a constant. He has more to give us than just another way of coping. He is to be depended upon and will bless our days – painful or whole – with gifts of His choosing, always with good in mind. Sometimes they are the unexpected gifts of love and kindness.

Bettie Gilbert

Bettie Gilbert

Chronic Joy Contributing Writer

You can find Bettie blogging from her home in the far north suburbs of Chicago at bettiegsraseasons.com. She is walking forward with Jesus in the middle of her pain and weakness from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature and her family (including nine young grandchildren) are Bettie's joys. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great delight in their weekend coffee breaks together.

33 Biblical One Anothers

33 Biblical One Anothers

Pray through these 33 One Another Verses, meditating on what it means to love one another deeply from the heart as we learn to walk each other home selflessly.

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