by Caroline Madison
Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? (Matt. 7:9)
I was afraid, but I asked. I laid bare the deepest desires of my heart—even the little ones that we don't really think God cares about. I wanted a dog.
And a few months later, Iroh came: 35 pounds of silky fur, slobbery affection, and issues. So many issues.
He was barely three years old and had been left alone in an outdoor pen for most of that.
We taught him as much as we could, and he improved every day, though there were many times I questioned if it was wise to keep him. At best, he was skittish and unpredictable, balking at everything—the heater, a car starting, a knock on the door.
But each time I questioned it, I received the same answer: "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”(Matthew 7:9-11)
Iroh is a good gift. I clung to that belief through bouts of food aggression, resource guarding, and lunging at my roommate with no provocation.
We had good days too, like the moment he realized the squeaker in his ball wasn't a demon but a deliriously fun noisemaker.
But when he severely bit my roommate, puncturing her hand, the good days vanished. Everything I had been clinging to trickled through my fingers like grains of sand leaving me with the absolute certainty that we could no longer keep him and a vague sense of betrayal.
God knew this would happen. I felt like he'd given me a gift-wrapped grenade.
Aren't we so quick to question God’s heart toward us? We take that step of faith (a move, a new job, a relationship), and something doesn’t go right. Our foot falls through empty space, like when we’re expecting more stairs than there are.
That sick lurch is not something I would wish on anyone. But it’s part of the imperfect world we live in. Maybe you asked God for a child, and your child now has a serious disease. Or you asked Him for a job and the company goes under a few months after you start.
We cry and rage and demand answers. We want to call that ‘gift’ a stone and throw it back at heaven. And we make the pain we’re experiencing so much worse than it has to be.
Everything in this world is so unstable, pitching like a ship on the ocean. Only one thing remains unmovable—who God is. His character and intentions are not called into question just because everything else is shifting. In fact, He’s the only thing we can depend on to never change.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”(James 1:17)
Intersecting Faith and Life: When the ground shakes beneath you, don’t run away from God. Press into Him with the full assurance that He will hold you close while everything crumbles. That He will give you the answers you need when you need them. And that His heart toward you is good all the time.
For Further Reading
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."