Receiving a needed, heartfelt gift in the midst of a trial can be a great motivator to give to others in their time of need. This may surprise some, but little can encourage a giving heart like receiving.
Yet, being a cheerful receiver is not always easy. In fact, it can be even more difficult than giving with a glad heart. A willingness to accept from others gracefully can be tough, especially for those used to being self-sufficient.
When my husband was dealing with serious health problems while I was six months pregnant with my second child, our family was on the need side of the equation. With no local family and difficulties financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual, we were struggling to get by. Each day was a battle, and I often fell into bed without an ounce of energy left.
Fellow believers blessed us time and time again. They brought us meals, cleaned our house, slipped cash into our mailbox or under our front door, watched our son, gave us rides, prayed for us, sent us encouraging cards, and more. They were, in a word, Christ to us. They lightened our load in numerous ways and helped our life feel a bit more normal.
Both my husband and I had come to know Christ only four years before he got sick. We were just learning about the blessings of giving and trying to rid ourselves of selfishness. And yet, here we were, in the middle of a crisis that required us to be the recipients rather than the givers.
Perhaps there was a lessona different one than we expectedthat we needed to learn.
I can share, from personal experience, that it can be tough to receive with a Godly heart. I wanted to be self-sufficient. I didn't want to trouble anyone with our problems or needs. I was sure there was someone else, in worse straits than we were, who needed itwhatever "it" might have beenmore than we did.
It can be a very humbling experience to receive help: even more so to ask for it. And, to be completely honest, many of us have no desire to be humble. No matter how much we say God is our Lord, we really want to think we can do it on our own. We want to take the credit for where we are and have no desire to admit we have needs. People who have needs are weak, our society tells us. Who wants to admit weakness to anyone? Even now, after the experience I had, I still find myself reluctant to accept help from the body of Christ, feeling more comfortable "struggling in silence."
God wants us to receive with a glad and grateful heart; and, of course, with a humble one as well. Remember, God will provide for all our needs. Sometimes, he uses other believers to do this for us. Just because God doesn't provide for us in the way we are accustomed does not mean He is not providing.
My experience of need had an effect I never would have expected: it motivated me to meet the needs of others. About a month into our ordeal, I started saving the disposable pans folks were using to give us our meals. I figured I'd return the favor to someone else in need of a hot meal.
Also, having "been there," I am keenly aware of what is most helpful and encouraging to someone in a difficult situation. I can, therefore, help in ways that were helpful and uplifting for our family, which will likely produce the same result for our struggling friends.
There are so many, both in and out of the family of God, who can use our resources: our prayers, our time, our money, our encouragement, our effort. What better way is there to serve those around us than to use what God has given us to help meet their needs? Perhaps, in doing so, we will help develop yet another cheerful giver in God's family.
(c) Joanne Sher 2011
Joanne Sher is a Christian writer saved out of Judaism, traveling rough roads with God's strength. She loves to blog, encourage, write, and spend time with her family. Learn more about her at http://www.joannesher.com.
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