“I have a gift for you.” said the God of the Universe. “I made this precious gift just for you. I’m giving you this gift because I love you.”

I closed my eyes and held out my hands with anticipation.

“What will it be?” I wondered with childlike curiosity.

“Is it something wonderful like traveling to a far away country to see exotic and amazing things?” I asked God.

“No,” He replied. It’s far more wonderful than that.”

“Is it riches? I’ll have a large home, fine clothing, lovely things?” I asked.

“No,” He replied. “It’s much finer than anything you can own.”

“Is it beauty?” I asked. “Will I be graceful and pretty with bright eyes and long legs?”

“No,” He replied. “This gift is far more valuable than physical beauty.”

“Is it wisdom?” I asked. “Will I understand the great scholars and philosophers?”

“No,” he replied. “It isn’t wisdom. Your gift will bring deeper insights than wisdom can provide.”

“What is it?” I asked.

God placed the wrapped gift in my hands. This wasn’t the gift I expected. I didn’t understand it. It felt heavy—so heavy I could hardly hold it.

“Don’t unwrap it.” God said. “When the time is right, you’ll see the gift for what is truly is. Until then, trust me.”

“This can’t be my gift.” I told God. “It’s much too heavy for me to hold. It hurts when I hold this gift.”

“You can’t understand the gift yet,” God explained. “but this gift is made just for you.”

“I don’t want this gift. Can I have a different gift? This gift is too much for me. This gift feels painful and raw. Please God, anything but this.” I pleaded.

God spoke soothing words to me in quiet, hushed tones, “Just wait. Just breathe. Just be. Trust me. I made this beautiful gift just for you. You think it’s too heavy right now, but I will help you carry it.”

“Okay.” I finally agreed. “I will accept the gift. I don’t want it, I don’t understand it, but you are the God of the Universe. You are a good and loving God.”

I was surrounded by darkness. I felt afraid–nothing made sense. Those around me seemed to think everything was fine. Didn’t they understand? Nothing was fine.  I couldn’t see the way forward.

“I know you can’t make sense of this.” whispered God. “I will help you carry this gift. I will direct you each step of the way. I will walk beside you and soon you’ll begin to see things clearly.”

I held my gift and began to cry heavy, salty tears. The tears came freely, so freely I wondered if they would ever stop. On and on they flowed, so many tears.

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“Let the tears come.” whispered God. “Every tear you cry makes room for more joy than you can imagine.”

The ache in my heart was almost too much to bear. There were times I was sure my heart would break into a million tiny pieces. It was an ache so deep it seemed to come from a place inside me I didn’t know was there.

“I know you’re hurting.” whispered God. “This ache is because I am growing and stretching your heart to make room for a love deeper than you can imagine.”

With time my gift began to change me.

After a while it didn’t feel quite so heavy.

The tears made room for joy. So much joy.

My heart grew and stretched to make room for love. So much love.

As the darkness subsided, rays of light began to break through and something unexpected emerged.

Beneath the tears, heartache and darkness I saw my gift.

Hope. So much hope.

It filled me up. My hope was light and bright and good. It was so beautiful my soul could hardly take it.

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God explained, “You had to walk through darkness to see the light. You had to cry heavy, salty tears to make room for joy. You had to ache deep in your heart to make room for love. This was the only way I could give you my true and lasting Hope.”

“Thank you.” I said. “The darkness has subsided and I can see more clearly. My tears have dried and made room for joy. My heart is bigger and I can love more deeply. I have hope. Hope is a gift more precious and beautiful than I ever imagined.”

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