Gifts of the Season

Some seasons in life are really difficult. Our hearts get broken, and the days drag on and on, making the season seem endless and sometimes even hopeless. And during the holidays, this brokenness seems compounded. But if we open the eyes of our hearts, we will find we are surrounded by gifts.

God is a gift-giver in every season of life. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.1 But will we be receivers of these gifts?

There are some gifts which have been given for each and every one of us, and some are gifted specifically and individually.

Available for all of us to receive are the gifts of His salvation, eternal life, grace, and love. And once we receive these gifts from Him, we will also know hope, comfort, and peace.2

There are gifts in the world around us: natural beauty, love and kindness from others, joy, laughter, music, art, words, our senses, and His provision.

There are gifts He has instilled within us, meant to be poured out for others. He created us and prepared us in advance for good works.3 These works are not to be left undone, with our gifts hidden away, hoarded, neglected, and uncultivated. No, they are meant to be stirred up and administered—things like mercy, compassion, kindness, and love.

The unique giftedness of each of us is to reflect His light and love to others. We are to shine as only we can—not for ourselves so that we will get the glory but for Him and so that He will.4

So, if in these seasons of difficulty, heartache, suffering, and grief we are wrapped up in ourselves and the pain of our circumstances, then God’s gifts are not being unwrapped for ourselves or presented for a waiting world to receive. As difficult as it is, we should not hide our light or stop living our purpose in the midst of our painful circumstances. We can hold on to the words of Hebrews 6:19 which tell us that hope is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” In the midst of these difficult times, we will find He is hope, balm, healing, and the God of all comfort. We have the privilege of entering His presence to find His help in our time of need.5 Consider the joy of His presence and the wonder that He would commune with us! And He has promised to never leave nor forsake His own.6 

May the gift of the Savior whom we celebrate this Christmas season be part of every season of our lives. May His light shine through us even in our darkest of nights. May our lives be a gift to Him and to the world on His behalf. Yes, may we show the world the greatest gift we have ever been given: Immanuel, God with us.

 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:15


1 See James 1:17.

2 See John 3:16, John 14:27, Romans 10:13, 2 Corinthians 1:3, Ephesians 2:8, and 1 Peter 1:3.

3 See Ephesians 2:10.

4 See Matthew 5:16.

5 See Hebrews 4:16.

6 See Hebrews 13:5.

Hebrews 6:19 and 2 Corinthians 9:15 are taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, December 11, 2022

Many Sparrows

A little sparrow awakens each day and does what it was created to do.  It happily hops along, singing and eating insects.  It does this in lush lawns, in parched medians, beneath cars in parking lots, and even beside highways, with vehicle tires inches from its little body.  It takes no thought for the circumstances surrounding it.  Its focus is on doing what God created it to do.

Have you ever taken the time to observe these magnificent little creatures?  They are so common and non-flashy in appearance that we might easily take them for granted, but I find observing them to be fascinating.  Their little sounds are heartwarming.  Their little antics are adorable.  And once, I even saw a parent feeding its offspring beneath a car tire, picking up little bugs from the steaming asphalt and hopping them over to a baby’s wide-open beak.  Sparrows fill the landscape with their flocks, swooping around, landing on sidewalks, branches, rooftops, fences, and power lines.  I find their presence comforting when I think on the words of the Bible which say that God knows when each sparrow falls to the ground, and each of us is of more value than many sparrows combined.1

I was recently within the flock of my extended family.  We ranged in age from two months to seventy-one years.  The room was full of chatter and laughter as we flitted about, happily connecting with one person after another.  But within that flock were twenty-six individuals, all with unique personalities, needs, gifts, and pains.  God knew our family unit, but He also knew each one of us individually.  

God created each of us, and He loves us. He thinks about us.  He sees us.  What we go through is known by Him.  When we fall, He knows.  When we sing, He hears.  He is very aware of us and watches for us to spread our wings or seek shelter beneath His. But do we allow God to care for us as He cares for the birds?  Do we let Him into our lives?  Do we glorify Him with the talents He bestowed upon us?  Are we doing what He created us to do?  Are we functioning within our circumstances the way He designed us to even if the circumstances are not ideal?

How often do we not walk in our giftings?  How often are we held back by ourselves and the fears of our own minds, by others who disallow us, by others who discourage us, by the enemy of our souls?  Feelings of doubt, worthlessness, and other negative things can cloud our thoughts.  But if we listen to truth and look up to the One who thinks we are of more value than many sparrows, we can fly.  Our hearts can soar even if circumstances don’t change.  We can be settled in our spirits, fully confident in the truth.  We can trust that He will never leave us, that He will work all things for our good, and that He will complete the work He begins in us.2

We can come under the cover of His wings where He will shelter us near to His heart.  We can wait upon God and let our expectation be from Him.  He is our rock of strength and our salvation.  He is our defense, our refuge, and our stay.  Power belongs to Him, and we can trust in Him at all times.3 He will help us and carry us through all the difficulties of life.  We do not have to fear what roars right beside us, what could crush us in an instant, because we serve the living God who is above all and has all power and authority.

Negative circumstances cannot detract from the greatness of His plans for us.  Temporary trials and storms do not alter His greater, eternal plan.  Thus, even when treacherous times come, it is possible for us to sing.  We can glorify Him from the midst of the fires or the midst of the sea.  Whatever He does will be forever; nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be taken away.4

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”5


1 See Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12:6–7.

2 See Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 1:6.

3 See Psalm 62:5–8, 11.

4 See Ecclesiastes 3:14.

5 Luke 12:6–7

Scriptures taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 19, 2021