December 18, 2021 Bet Cortes

Why Is It Hard To Receive?

Why Is It Hard To Receive?

Besides a lot of decorations and goodies at Christmas time, there is something in abundance this time of the year: Gifts! We love to buy gifts and bless those we care for and giving can be so much fun, right?! I especially love finding the right gifts for our kids and then sitting back to watch the fireworks of joy explode in the living room (or at times tantrums too ~ but that’s beside the point!).

I may be good at a lot of things (okay, maybe just a couple 😉) but for me, receiving a gift isn’t always as enjoyable as giving a gift. Does that seem strange to you? Sometimes at Christmas, my thoughts fluctuate a bit. After all the presents have been handed out, I wonder, “didn’t anyone get anything for me?” which turns to amazement and wonder when I realize  that someone DID get me something! And then I think “will it fit me?” or “will I like it?”. Perhaps you’ve had this happen to you. Although it isn’t always on my mind, I realize giving seems more natural for me, but receiving is not. If you’re anything like me, we want to know that we are loved and thought of… but perhaps a bit picky or maybe don’t want to be needy. Do you have a hard time receiving from others?

Receiving isn’t limited to Christmas time either as it happens all year round through the expected and unexpected things of life: When your car breaks down and you need help on the side of the road, you need a babysitter and can’t find anyone, you can’t find a way to pay the bills, you feel lonely and could really use a friend, you need someone with a chain saw to rescue you from large dying trees on your property… and the list can go on! Admittedly, I have needed help in each of those and so many more! There are and will continue to be many occasions in which we find our needs outweigh our resources and we must turn to someone to ask for help. Receiving in those moments can be very hard because it requires the acknowledgement that what the other person has given us is something we needed and could not have done on our own.

Sadly, throughout my life I have seen many people reject help, even when they desperately needed it, because they thought they still could make it on their own rather than admit their need and receive help when they needed it.  It stands to reason, that the first step to receiving anything is acknowledging that we indeed HAVE a need we cannot fulfill on our own. Once we are willing to acknowledge our need, we must get up and ask for help. This reminds me of the passage in Hebrews 4:16 which says: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” I appreciate the frankness of the NIV version to admit “our need” which we will all have and continue to have.

Not only do we need to acknowledge when we have a need and ask for help, but we must also be willing to accept the help that is being offered. Sometimes receiving an undesired gift is not easy, even if it is one that we need. Whether out of greed or humility, we may estimate the gift is far to below (or above) us to receive or different in nature than what we wanted. Perhaps it is what we need, but simply NOT what we want. We recently had over a little neighbor boy to play while his grandma was working. He was asking for food and letting me know he was VERY hungry. So as soon as I had the meal ready, I gathered the troop to sit up at the table. As he caught glimpse of the egg burrito on his plate, he began exclaiming “NOT A TACO!!! I HATE TACOS!!!” over and over! Any effort of explaining its contents and assuring him it was not spicy went on deaf ears as he ran home yelling “NOT A TACO!!” for all to hear. Apparently, we wasn’t THAT hungry! Sometimes what we need does not look like what we get and we have a choice to either receive or reject it.

Paul describes how in God’s will, we can receive something that is not at all what we wanted yet was exactly what we needed. The trial Paul was facing was so strong that he sought God to remove it from His life “ Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:8-10). Paul lived at a level of submission to God that I hope to one day attain. He had an understanding and willingness to accept that God will not always give us what we want but he WILL give us what we need AND will sustain us with His grace.

James says it another way: “And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you…” James 4:6-8). Listening to the authority God has over our lives is a part of receiving what we need and not only what we want from God. Just as Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered and was made perfect (Heb 5:8-9), so we can count it joy when we face trails knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience (James 1:2-3). We know that if we need grace, we can recognize our need, come boldly to our God who gives generously, and receive His grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). We can be tempted to not acknowledge our need OR be dissatisfied with God’s gifts in our lives. Both of those options rob us from the opportunity to receive what we truly need from God.

Receiving can be hard for many reasons… but it is good. Jesus understands our weakness and offers us grace when we come to Him in our time of need. Jesus truly understands. May we be those who continue to come boldly to His throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. May we be strengthened in our resolve to submit to God and draw near to Him, knowing that He draws near to us.