Just a few days ago, I hugged my sister goodbye as she headed off to college in the States.
I stood there, watching, as my dad and my best friend for 18 years disappeared through the doors into the airport terminal. As their footsteps receded, a hollow ache settled in my chest. Why, Lord? I cried silently. Why do you give good gifts only to take them away?
As TCKs, we lose so many things, don’t we? Loss is part of the package deal of being a TCK, in one sense or another. It’s not something we can avoid. But the danger of this constant loss of people and places and things is that it can lead to us putting up walls around our hearts. Or worse, bitterness.
The Bible tells us that all good gifts are from the Father (James 1:17). But when we lose those gifts, it begs the question: if God is truly good, then how can He take away good gifts?
It’s a valid question, and one we all have to come to terms with at some point in our lives. Let’s start by looking at a definition of the word gift.
What’s the definition of a gift?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a gift is “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.” The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines it as “something good you receive or something good that happens to you, even though you might not deserve it.”
So, to sum it up, a gift is:
- Something voluntarily given from one person to another
- Something good
- Something undeserved
How does this apply to God’s gifts?
The first truth we need to realize about God’s gifts is that we don’t deserve them. Not one bit. What an incredible privilege it is to be able to experience the gifts of life, family, house, and happiness! As Ephesians 5:20 so aptly reminds us, our only response to these undeserved gifts should be gratitude and humility: “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV).
The second truth we need to realize is that the gift is not the end goal. In other words, the gift exists to point to the giver. Have you ever valued a gift a friend gave you over the friend himself? Of course not.
Imagine if you had to choose between giving up an expensive gift or losing the person who gave it to you. Which would you choose? You would choose to give up the gift because, as wonderful as it is, it’s simply not as valuable as the person who gave it to you.
The same goes for God. When we value the gifts He gives more than Him, we devalue Him. We diminish His glory. And we forget that He is the most priceless treasure we could ever receive. Not things, places, or even people.
Now that we know how to rightly view God’s gifts, how can we learn to properly enjoy His good gifts without becoming bitter or hardened when we lose them?
1. Enjoy God’s gifts to their fullest.
God gave us the earth to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 tells us that God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (ESV). He created the vibrant colors of the scarlet macaw, the roaring thunder of the waterfall, the rich aroma of coffee, and the creamy coolness of ice cream for us to savor. So, don’t be afraid to enjoy the breathtaking experiences around you!
Relationships are another gift God has given us to enjoy. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to make new friends, start conversations, encourage someone, or get involved in a community, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone.
Does enjoying God’s gifts mean risking pain? Yes, but your life will be so much fuller for having embraced those opportunities than if you had chosen to hide behind the safety of your walls. Who knows all the wonderful things God has in store for you!
2. Hold those gifts with an open hand.
Loss is inevitable. At some point, you might have to leave the place you’ve called home for so long. You might have to say goodbye to that friend you’ve grown close to. You might have to leave the country you’ve grown to love for a strange, unfamiliar place. And in the end, death is the ultimate thief of our earthly treasures.
As the Giver of all good gifts, God can also take away any of our blessings at a moment’s notice, and it’s important that we recognize that. But I don’t say that to scare you!
While the earthly gifts God gives us don’t ultimately last, Jesus does. He is the gift you can never lose, the One who will never leave you. Paul described Jesus as God’s indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15 NIV). Because that’s exactly what He is.
See, if earthly gifts weren’t fleeting, we would never discover Jesus for the everlasting treasure that He is. We would never be able to lift our gaze past the glittering things of this world to Jesus, the only Gift we truly need.
Dear TCK, next time you’re mourning the loss of a place, a relationship, a keepsake – remember that it was a gift. Thank God for the privilege of being able to experience that gift and treasure it, even if you only received it for a short time. And then, give your pain to God. Cling to Him, and discover the immeasurable worth of the gift of our Comforter for yourself.
His gifts are good, but He is better.
TCKs for Christ: Writer & Social Media Manager
is an MK from South Africa and has called Africa her home for the past 15 years. As a writer, she seeks to use her gifts to encourage other TCKs that they are not alone. Besides writing, she enjoys reading voraciously, playing piano and violin, and helping with her family’s ministry. You can connect with her at Whimsical Wanderings or on Instagram, @KristianneHassman_Author.