The green heart-shaped leaves of an Eastern Redbud tree fill most of the photo. The closest are mere inches from the camera. Some leaves are in sunlight, others in full or partial shade. A few bits of blue sky show though the canopy of leaves. The leafy branches cast shadows on the grass below.

A Love That’s Easily Pleased

A dear loved one recently got engaged. When I visited her later, she showed me her engagement ring.

Her man did good. It’s a simple but beautiful ring and looks lovely on her.

But as she said, it could have looked different and she’d still have been happy.

This got me thinking. When we truly, deeply love someone, we’re easily pleased with their gifts. They could give us a rock and we’d treasure it—because it’s from them. If their heart’s in it, our heart responds.

I wondered: How pleased am I with what God gives me? What does that say about our relationship? And how does He respond to what I offer Him?

I invite you to join me in asking these questions—and exploring some answers.


God gives us many things. Some are easy to accept and enjoy. Others, not so much.

It’s easy to appreciate the beautiful, the happy, the comfortable. It’s easy to praise Him and open our hands for promises of peace and joy.

But when life deals us difficulty, praise and thanksgiving tend to stick in our throats. When we read promises of refinement by trials, we want to skip on to promises of a new, trouble-free heaven and earth.

Yet the same God gives both. The same God who takes us to dazzling mountaintops lets us go through dark valleys. The same God who lays us in green pastures and leads us beside still waters also leads us through deserts and sends us out on stormy seas.

We don’t have to like or feel happy about the hard things. Some of us experience some truly horrific and evil things. God may allow them, but He doesn’t condone them.

But He does offer to redeem them for good. He offers to sustain, even grow our souls through them. And in all things, He offers us Himself—His presence with us always, through everything we experience.

In the throes of suffering, we may be tempted to scorn those gifts. We want our pain to stop. We want our lives, our world, ourselves to fit a certain image. At the very least, we’d like God to make us feel better, to tweak our difficulties to a level we think we can bear.

There’s no shame in telling Him all this. He wants our honesty. He hears and considers our requests. And sometimes He sees fit to mend our situation in the way we ask.

But if He’s enough for us, we can bear anything. Fear, inadequacy, grief, confusion, anger—if we have Jesus, we can bear them all.

Because we know who allows them, and who holds us through them. Because life with Him in any form—in riches or poverty, in sickness or health, on mountaintops or in the valley of death’s shadow—is infinitely better than life without Him.

And when He returns or calls us Home, our earthly sojourn with Him will give way to happily forever after.


We know that God loves us infinitely more than we love Him. We also know that our best expressions of devotion compare with His about as well as rocks compare with a diamond ring. Never mind that all we have to give from is His to begin with.

So what does our divine Lover think of our gifts?

When we give with our whole selves, in ways that align with His will…He’s delighted.

Not grudgingly accepting. Not coolly approving. Not plastering on a smile while He secretly looks for a chance to get rid of it behind our backs.


Even when our offerings aren’t big or showy. Even when the next person’s offering is ten times as impressive. In fact, He’d much prefer simplicity with humility than extravagance with self-righteousness.

He delights in us because He loves us. He sees us. He measures our efforts by what He’s provided us—His Word and our resources. Not what He’s given others or what they’ve given Him.

Too often, we measure the value of our gifts by anything and everything else. Others’ gifts. Others’ resources. Others’ opinions. Worldly criteria. Our own mental image of ourselves.

Or we offer them to a God we create—a petulant, unpredictable diva bent on our humiliation. Or a grumpy old teacher who does nothing but mark up errors. Or an otherworldly Secretary of Grace who’d like to accept our application but unfortunately it doesn’t quite meet criteria and sadly He can’t do anything to help us sort things out.

The true God is none of those things. He wants to redeem us and build us up. He’s not only willing but able to take our meagerest offering and bring from it a beautiful, meaningful harvest.

Yes, He’s holy. Yes, He holds us to standards. He corrects what needs correcting and prunes what needs pruning.

But He also takes what’s good and cultivates it. He redeems what has even the faintest breath of life so that it produces fruit.

When He first created humanity, He knew we’d fall. He knew what it would take to redeem us. And He gave it. God the Son came to earth as Jesus, lived a sinless life, gave Himself on the cross to atone for our sins, was buried, and rose to life again so that we could live with Him forever.

When we put our faith in Jesus, God forgives our sins and assigns us Jesus’ righteous status—a righteousness that can never be taken away. He also gives us the Holy Spirit, who cultivates Christlike character in us and supplies all we need to bear fruit that glorifies Him.

That’s how much He loves us. That’s how determined He is to redeem us.

So bring Him your gifts and offerings. Approach Him with the faith that He exists and rewards with Himself those who seek Him.

Come to Him with open hands. And when He surprises you, don’t close them.

He loves you, you know.

The Lord your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will be quiet in his love.
He will delight in you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 (CSB)

Scripture quotations marked CSB have been taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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