After a storm washed her overboard, Samantha found herself stranded on a desert island (perhaps that deep-discount cruise vacation hadn’t been the best investment).
Since Samantha did not know how to fish, the only food was in the trees.
Beautiful, ripe coconuts hung from the branches high above her. She stared longingly at them, but none littered the beaches. They all hung high out of reach.
She attempted to climb the coconut tree trunks, but they had no branches to grab onto, and her arms were not strong enough to scale them unaided.
Though she tried several times, she could not climb even close to the height of the coconuts. By the third day, she was weak with hunger. The large ripe coconuts merely taunted her from the treetops.
She dropped to her knees and prayed.
“Lord, I’m so hungry. Please drop a few coconuts. I’ll be eternally grateful.”
That night a great storm blew in from the sea. Waves surged up the beaches, and rain pelted down from the black sky.
Samantha could only huddle beneath the trees and wait for the storm to pass. When dawn and the sun returned, she ventured out.
She expected a beach full of coconuts that had been blown down, but only driftwood met her gaze. If any coconuts had fallen, the waves had washed them into the ocean.
She screamed and grabbed a chunk of driftwood. She hurled it at the nearest bunch of coconuts. The stick missed its target, thudded against the trunk, and fell to the ground.
From that futile act came an idea. Samantha gathered several pieces of driftwood, selecting those that had some heft, but were not too bulky to throw. She hurled the first into the air again, this time putting more effort into aiming.
The projectile flew wide, but not by far. On the tenth try, a chunk of driftwood struck a coconut. It fell to the ground at her feet.
Samantha squealed and jumped in the air. She pumped her fist in victory and grabbed her prize. She had no knife, but she soon found a jagged rock, which she used to bash open the coconut.
The milk slid down her throat, the smoothest sweetest beverage she had ever drunk. The meat tasted better than anything she ever remembered eating.
She used the driftwood to snag several more coconuts from the trees. When she was full, she lay down and gazed contentedly at the sky.
“You sure make things hard, God,” she observed, hardly expecting an answer.
But a voice drifted to her on a breeze: “That which is given is cherished for a short while, but that which is earned is valued for a lifetime.”