Unexpected Gifts

God’s ways are so not like ours, and I praise Him for that.

Today Angela Strong, author of Lighten Up, talks about the nature of God revealed through a chemo-patient and blessed her with unexpected gift.

But first, I wanted to thank my sweet friend, Kristena Tunstall, for nominating my blog for the Liebster award. (You all can read about this award here.) In accepting the award, I’ve been asked to answer some questions about myself and my blog. I’ll do that Saturday as part of my weekend review. Soooooo, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, come back Saturday. 🙂

Autor PicUnexpected Gifts by Angela Strong

Yesterday I met a woman still recovering from chemotherapy. I wanted to encourage her, but she encouraged me. She said, “The sickness was a gift. It brought me closer to God in a way I never would have done on my own.” I blinked back tears. And I’ve been pondering her perspective ever since. How would such gratitude play out in my life? Let’s take a look.

My life was pretty good. I had dreams and goals and success. I finished my first manuscript in 2006 and sold my first novel in 2008. LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO sold out at my Costco book-signing and it didn’t stay long on the Walmart bookshelves either. I was off to a good start.

Then Summerside Press closed. And the publisher who bought my middle-grade novel shut down, as well. Not to mention my husband left me, and I decided I was never going to write romance again. This definitely wasn’t the way I’d imagine life.

But it did bring me closer to God. He was all I had, and he provided all I need. Five years later, I have an abundance. I’m remarried. I get to stay home and write again. I have a couple of publishers who believe in me. And I’m content.

Of course, I’d still love to one day have a publishing war over my books like speaker Jen Hatmaker has been sharing about on facebook, or get to attend a movie premier as “the talent” like powerhouse author Trisha Goyer, but that’s not what really matters. And I’d like to suggest that they are where they are because it’s not about those things for them either. It’s about being real in their own journeys. About struggling through adopting kids or being a teen mom and considering each hardship a gift.

I’m not going to say it’s easy. Or it’s fun. Or that I’d ever want anybody else to ever experience the pain I went through. It’s not, and I don’t. So how can I consider it a gift in my life?

Well…I write better romance novels now. As I was forced to get closer to the lover of my soul, I know what true love is. It’s powerful. It changes lives. And whether any of these novels get published or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I use the gifts God has given me for his glory.

Philippians 3:16 says to “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” The gift of going through a hard time is that when you draw near to God and He rescues you, you don’t take life for granted anymore.

The cancer survivor I met yesterday has a new outlook on life, and I’m guessing she’s make her life count like reflection-834692-mnever before because God revealed to her how precious it really is. My hope is that you and I can find ways to do the same through whatever challenge we might be facing right now. Let’s make the most of our unexpected gifts.


Lighten UpLighten Up:
Bethany Light is the daughter of a minister who can’t forgive her father for running off with the church secretary. She goes to her own pastor for counsel, never expecting to fall in love with him. To make matters worse, she’s personal training his fiancé in preparation for the big day and somehow ends up in their wedding. Refusing to make the same mistake her dad made, Bethany tries to focus on fixing her family rather than face her own issues. How could a household that used to have it all together have fallen so far from grace? And how can she keep from following in her father’s footsteps when it feels so right?
Buy it here.
Angela Ruth Strong started IDAhope writers in Boise, Idaho where she lives with her husband and three kids. She sold her first article to a national publication when still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Get to know her and her story better at http://angelaruthstrong.blogspot.com.
livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! C.S. Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”
And Lamentations 2:22-23 says:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Though we may, and often do, fail, God’s love, faithfulness, and compassion never will. When has God brought that truth home to you? When have you most felt His love? And yet, our feelings are fleeting and faulty, so let me rephrase: What’s it like knowing God’s love is greater than our perception of it? Share your thoughts here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.


  1. Jen, thanks for sharing Angela’s post with us. It sounds trite sometimes, but some of our greatest growth and joy comes through the most difficult periods of our lives!

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