Rebuked by Blessing

Have you ever been rebuked by bananas? Probably not. But Darlene Deibler was. 

A young missionary wife ministering to the people of New Guinea in the late nineteen-thirties and early forties, Darlene and her husband continued their ministry though war had broken out across the globe. Eventually Japan took control of the island, and the Deiblers were placed under house arrest and later incarcerated in a Japanese prison camp, where Darlene would become a widow. She endured atrocities such as torture, starvation, and solitary confinement during her four years as a prisoner. During this time, not surprisingly, her faith began to wane. 

One day she learned that another prisoner had received a single banana. Darlene dared to ask God for a banana of her own but then backpedaled: “There’s no way you could get a banana to me in here, Lord. It’s just too hard.” A while later she received a visit from a friendly guard who noticed her miserable state. Before long, a surprise arrived at her cell. Not one banana, but ninety-two bananas!

Darlene was instantly rebuked. Rather than lift her hands in exuberant praise, she bowed her head in humility, praying, “Forgive me, Lord, for being so silly.” Of course He could get a banana to her. After all, she served the God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20).1

We serve a God who loves to exceed our expectations with His kindness. We experience it every day, not in a ninety-two-banana-kind of way, but in a daily bread sort of way. But do you ever let God’s abundant and unfailing generosity rebuke your fragile faith? I’m afraid I don’t. 

I’m Too Big

I fail to be humbled by God’s generous answers to my prayers, first, because I see myself as deserving them. I don’t recognize my faith as mustard seed-sized. Instead, I tend to assume that it’s much more impressive, somehow deserving of gifts. And not only am I impressed with my unwavering, unshakeable faith, but I also tend to assess my faithful deeds as scoring pretty well on God’s cosmic report card. Of course, we don’t think in those exact terms. The enemy is far too sly for that. Instead, he allows such hubris to creep in undetected to infect our thoughts and our hearts without notice. And before long, we’ve begun to expect God’s blessings. 

I don’t know about you, but I need renewed thinking—thoughts anchored in the truth of Scripture. Truthfully, without Christ, all my righteous deeds are nothing but disgusting rags (Isa. 64:6). The just deserts for my sin is death (Rom. 6:23). It’s not because of the wonderful and righteous deeds that I have done that God chose to extend His grace on me, but in order to demonstrate the mercy and grace of His own character (Titus 3:5). In short, I have been sinful from the moment of my conception (Psalm 51:5) and deserve nothing more than to be a child of wrath (Eph. 2:1–3).

God’s blessings don’t humble me because I’m simply too grand in my own mind. 

God Is Too Small

A second reason that God’s abundant kindness may fail to humble me is that God is too small. Mentally, I know verses like Ephesians 3:20 and Matthew 19:26 which tell me that God can do all things, even those that surpass my wildest imaginations. Practically, however, I’m often like Darlene Deibler, assuming that God can’t—or worse, won’t—answer my prayer. I pray for something big for a while and then give up, thinking that God had no plans to wow me with His answer. 

When I do this, I sell God’s character short. I truncate His grace, His faithfulness, His kindness, His steadfast love, and His compassion. I keep Him as a God on my shelf, but I don’t see Him as a personal God—not really. He’s a figurehead—ineffectual and unmoved by my plight.

I don’t mean to communicate that God’s hand is somehow made smaller by my poor theology. That, of course, is never the case. However, deflating His character in this way means I’ve probably failed to pray. And, as James tells us, we often fail to have because we fail to ask (4:2). A small view of God also means that I might just miss His character, even though He’s putting it on full display. Good eyesight? Full fridge? Healthy kids? Comfortable home? Insured cars? A nest-egg in the bank? These and a myriad more “small” blessings are God’s everyday, constant reminders of the abundance of His character.

He doesn’t always give us ninety-two bananas. Sometimes, He just gives us a grocery list that we’re able to fulfill. Even this, if we’re thinking properly about ourselves and about God, ought to humble us. 

Forgive me, Lord, for being so silly. I often miss Your abundant, consistent generosity, though it’s evident everywhere I look. Rebuke me, Father, with Your blessings. May I be humbled and grateful at the openness of Your hand in providing not only my every need, but so often many of my frivolous desires as well. I deserve eternal condemnation and separation from You. Instead, You have adopted me as Your child, united me with Christ, and bestowed upon me every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Not only that, but each day You give me my daily bread and so much more. You are so kind and generous with Your provision. Thank You. 

Don’t let your gratitude begin and end at the Thanksgiving table. If articles like this have been a blessing to you this year, put your gratitude into action by giving a special Thanksgiving gift to Revive Our Hearts this month. When you do, we’ll send you a copy of one of our favorite resources of the year—our 2024 ministry calendar—along with our sincere thanks. Your heart for this ministry fills our hearts with gratitude!

1 You can find the full account of Darlene’s time in the prison camp in her memoir, Evidence Not Seen.

About the Author

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson lives in a small Minnesota town with her husband, son and daughter, and ridiculous black dog. She enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and coaching basketball. You can read more of her musings about God's Word at

Join the Discussion