The Unexpected Birthday Gift
August 13, 2016
by Maria Fontaine
The Unexpected Birthday Gift
I have a dear friend who told me about something that happened on his birthday. His car was in for repairs, and on this particular day he was driving someone in their own car on an all-day excursion. Planning to pick up his car from the shop after his long day’s drive, he had brought along a substantial amount of money to pay for the repairs.
However, when he went to collect his car, he discovered to his horror that the envelope with the repair money wasn’t in his bag where he’d carefully put it. With that sense of panic that comes when you find that you’ve lost something valuable, he quickly called the owner of the car that he had chauffeured to see if the money might have somehow fallen out of his bag inside the car.
“No, I’m very sorry, I don’t see it,” came the answer.
My friend said that the terrible sinking feeling, combined with the exhaustion after a long day of driving, was overwhelming. He was already short on funds and didn’t know where he’d be able to make up the money that must have fallen out somewhere or been stolen during their travels. There was nothing to do but to cry out desperately to the Lord that somehow the money would be returned. Yet the chances of that looked too small to even hope for.
Fortunately, with the money he had received for his day’s work, he was able to pay for enough of the repairs to take the car home.
He was heavy of heart and beset by a bad migraine, and his birthday, of all days, had turned into a disaster. Struggling with the migraine and worry about finances, as well as blaming himself that he had somehow allowed that money to be lost, he spent several hours trying to figure out why this had happened. Finally he chose to give the whole thing to the Lord and trust that the person who had the money now must need it more desperately than he did. He prayed that the Lord would use those funds to somehow draw this person to Jesus.
I think by then he must have felt like Job did, “You, Lord, have given, and You have taken away. Blessed be Your name.” At that point he was finally able to fall asleep, and ended up actually sleeping better than usual.
He went to work the next day feeling a peace that somehow the Lord was working everything for good. He wasn’t counting on seeing those funds again; He just knew that somehow the Lord would take care of things.
Midmorning he received a call. It was the woman who he had chauffeured the day before. “We found the envelope with the money when we looked again in the car,” she said. “So we have it here safe and sound for you.”
What a relief and cause for praise to the One who had returned what had been lost. My friend was glad that he had chosen to entrust everything to the Lord’s care.
He could have been tempted to give in to despair and anxiety. But he won the victory because he made the choice to praise the Lord no matter what circumstances he faced. It wasn’t about what God did or didn’t do for him or whether it looked like God was being “good” or “bad” to him. What mattered was that he trusted in Jesus to do what would somehow be best for him. He knew he could always trust in God’s love, regardless of what challenges or losses he faced, because Jesus had given up everything—even His life—for him.
Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t guarantee that everything will always work out the way we want it to. Nevertheless, once we’ve done what we can, we can leave it with the Lord to do what He knows is best. Even if something is lost or taken away, God will always supply, or redirect us, or show us how we can do without something we thought was needed. Through it all, we just need to trust that He never fails and that He works all things to our good.
It takes faith to endure times of testing and loss. When we fight to give thanks in everything, we will be in a better position to trust God to provide whatever He knows is best for us.
So my friend got something very precious from Jesus on his birthday, the gift of reinforced faith that he could always trust Him in all things. That is a present that will last forever.