Bob and his small family were not well-off. To be honest, they were struggling significantly with their finances. That’s why, when someone gave Bob a $100 bill one windy afternoon to buy his daughter a much-needed pair of shoes and some school supplies, he gave thanks to God. That night, as the family sat around a sparse table, Bob relayed the happy news to his wife and daughter. He knew he’d never forget the look of excitement on his daughter’s face when she heard.
Bob was doing the dishes the next day when he got a call from his girl. She'd just gotten out of school and was calling to double-check that her memories of the previous night were not a dream. She was calling to make sure they were still really going to the store to buy her those supplies, to buy her those shoes. Bob laughed with the joy of a father able to do something special for his only child and assured her he was looking at the $100 bill as he spoke. He told her he’d be right there to pick her up. Again he thanked God as he hung up the phone, gazing at the money where it sat, folded carefully on the kitchen window sill.
Just then, the phone rang a second time. Thinking once more to hear the voice of his impatient daughter, Bob answered with another laugh and a joke. His face fell quickly as the bank employee on the other end of the line relayed a cold message: there had been an overdraw in the family’s account, and it would be closed immediately unless Bob came down and paid a minimum $100 towards the deficit. Crestfallen, Bob looked at the $100 in the window and thought of his daughter. She would be crushed. But if their bank account closed, it would mean even bigger financial troubles down the line. With great sadness, Bob walked to the bank and handed over his $100 bill. Then he went to break the news to his daughter.
As he walked to meet her at the store, Bob became angry with God. He felt tricked into joy, jerked around by providence, fooled into making himself look like a fool in front of his daughter, resentful for the pain of what felt like a broken promise of provision to him and his family. Then, suddenly, he felt ashamed. Had God not given him a family? Had God not given him a home? As sparsely set as their table was, was it not set?
Bob stopped then, mid-step and mid-complaint, quietly thanking God once more for His goodness, for His faithfulness, for His provision and gracious care. “Thank you God,” he said. “I don’t know why you have given and then taken away, but thank you, and blessed be your name.” The sense of entitlement that had been building to a deafening crescendo suddenly quieted, replaced by a deep and strangish peace. He laughed again for the first time since that second phone call and took a step, thinking to pick up the pace on his way to meet his daughter.
Hearing the noise from under his foot, Bob stopped and lifted his shoe with curiosity. There, lying flattened on the sidewalk, was a crisp, brand new $100 bill.
God may not always return what He allows to be taken away from us. But this, I see in the Bible, is true: God is pleased by faith— by a heart that trusts in the faithfulness of His character, irregardless of the circumstances. To Him, it is a sparkling diamond in an ocean of garbage, the greatest beauty in the eye of the greatest Beholder. God may not always return what He allows to be taken away from us, but the deeper fellowship with Him, opened to us through the pain, is a priceless return for even the smallest investment of trust, displayed by a thankful heart.
Surrounded By Grace,