In a holy whisper, compassionate eyes searching my soul, He hands me a gift.
"I love you, my child. As the cross is a symbol of my love, so is this gift. It's not what you desire, but it will bring you more than you ever asked or imagined. Remember, all my gifts are good." Tears course off His face as He leans down to kiss my forehead.
As I carefully open the gift avoiding the thorns twisted into a bow, the blood red paper drops to the ground. I lift off the lid and peer into the tiny box. Before my mind can comprehend that it is empty, I am brought to my knees. Pain, fatigue, and weakness crash through my body pulling me under. Instantaneously, I am stricken with illness.
"Oh, God! What have you given me?" I scream in anguish.
"There, there, my child. Be still and know that I am God."
He gathers me to His heart and carries me to the darkened window. As His breath dispels ice crystals formed in the shape of dove, He points outside and says, "Look beyond your own comfort, to see what I see."
In the crisp chill of a winter night, the heavens open and I know fully even as I am fully known.
My life includes gifts many healthy people experience. The chance to wed and to have children. The gift of friends and loved ones, a home and a church. But, the most intriguing gifts are the ones He gives through illness. In being sick, I am forced to lean on Christ more. I realize I can't, God can, and I let Him. I appreciate the beauty of each snowfall, not just the first one, because I have time to treasure His creation. I realize that being physically weaker doesn't mean I am worthless. Using my heart instead of my hands is my role in the body of believers.
As He caresses my face with a look of love I can't begin to fathom He says, "My child, the true gift you hold tonight is me. I want for you to know me and to love me above all else. Because this is truth, your illness isn't some evil plan of mine designed for your ruin. It's meant to bring you closer to me, my heart and my will for your life. For without it, you wouldn't be all I've planned for you. Remember, when you begin to doubt my love, that I came as a babe to save all mankind. I am the gift."
With that thought echoing in my heart, I kiss His check and accept my gift.