If you have inside dogs, you know what happens when you eat something. They always want a bite. Maggie, my 8-year old Shih Tzu, is very particular. She likes cheese, meat, peanut butter, and pears. She hates spinach and tofu. Because I like both of those dreaded foods, I’ve offered them to her before. Over the years, she’s become a little suspicious of the food blessings I give.
Just a bite
Mamie, on the other hand, is younger and more accepting. She likes everything except spinach. If I eat it, she wants it, too. She sits next to my chair at the dinner table, wiggling all over with anticipation, and stares expectantly at me in hopes of a treat thrown her way. She just wants a bite.
Breakfast smoothies don’t appeal to either dog, but zucchini bread, especially with peanut butter and banana slices, is a big hit. This morning, I opted for whole grain toast with a little smear of peanut butter for breakfast.
Armed with a steaming cup of coffee and 1/2 a piece of toast in my hand, I crawled back into bed. Mamie was at my side in an instant, staring determinedly at my toast. I broke off a tiny piece and offered it. She gobbled it up and begged for more.
When comfort costs us a blessing
Maggie was curled at the foot of the bed. I pinched off another tiny piece of toast for her and stretched out my hand. “Hey, Maggie. You want a little bite?” She looked askance at the toast in my hand, lowered her head, and went back to sleep. Maggie missed one of her favorite treats because she was so comfortable where she was that she didn’t want to move.
These dogs have heard many sermons in their young lives, and they heard another one today. “Maggie, girl, you are missing blessings because you’re too comfortable to accept them,” I told her.
My words struck my own heart like a dagger. I love blessings, especially when they’re easy. The ones that aren’t so easy to receive, the ones that require an inordinate amount of effort or faith, are sometimes a struggle for me.
When blessing is wrapped in hard
My medical practice was only possible because of the years of effort I expended in long hours of study and training. It required much work to receive, but it was a blessing.
A literary agent was only possible because of the long hours of study and training, plus more edits and rewrites than I can number, but it’s also a much-work blessing.
A mission ministry was only possible because I moved out of my comfort zone and metaphorically lowered my nets on the other side, but it’s a blessing, nonetheless.
Do we embrace hard blessings?
This morning, I asked a hard question. Do my ongoing cornea problems contain a hard-to-receive blessing I can’t yet recognize? The answer is yes. Even in the midst of hard times, God causes all the circumstances, pleasant and unpleasant, to work together. He brings good in the midst of all the hard we face. (Romans 8:28)
Today, let’s ask ourselves few pointed questions:
If we’re in the midst of an agonizingly hard time, in what ways has God brought good in the midst of the difficulty?
If we’re in a waiting period, is there a God-given task I’ve delayed which will bring with it a blessing once completed?
How have we seen God’s faithfulness in past trials?
What blessings have we received after much effort?
In what areas do we need to persevere?
If we welcome the easy blessings, we must also be willing to embrace the hard ones, give thanks to the Author of both, and persevere until we reach the crown God has promised.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 niv