Perhaps we could use the words hurt, disappointed, or offended, instead. Basically, they all boil down to the same issue: God has not met our expectations; He has not done what we had hoped and believed for.
Oh, yes, I have been there numerous times! And then I wondered, “Did I do something wrong?” I honestly thought that I had prayed in faith. Why didn’t He answer – or why wasn’t the answer what I expected?
You see, I tried to make my God linear – if I do this, then He will do that. And when it didn’t happen as I hoped – like when our daughter, Robin, passed from cancer – with that mindset, I could have easily become offended or built up walls of distrust. Questions like, “Doesn’t He care?” or “Why?” could begin to undermine my faith and give Satan lots of opportunity to answer.
Questions like these cause us to focus on the past rather than allow us to connect with and lean into God to help us navigate the present. We stumble when we try to measure God’s goodness and power by our standards because we all know that His ways and His thoughts are higher. (Isa 55:9)
The scriptures tell us, “Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” (Ps 34:10) And in Psalm 16:1 David says, “Apart from You I have no good thing.” Perhaps I need to reframe my definition of what a “good thing” is.
Throughout scripture, over and over, the Lord allows His people to experience “hard things” so that they will draw closer to Him – a “good thing”. His greatest desire is for us to seek first His Kingdom; so He uses “hard things” to expose our wrong attachments – the things we thought would make us happy – and awaken us to better: First things. (Mt 6:33) He does not cause bad things to happen, but He does allow them.
When God says, “No”, it is not to pull us away from “good” but to draw us to “better”. Paul explains this well in 2 Corinthians 6 and wraps it up with, “having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” He makes it clear that the fullness of our joy cannot be attached to our circumstances. Because of who we are in Christ – we already have everything – His best! How could we possibly be disappointed with Him?
But when I am – I must speak to my soul and work on my definition of “good things.”
So Nita, does this mean I don’t pray and ask? I just give up on my desires? Absolutely not! The Lord has given us the keys to the Kingdom to bind up the work of the enemy. We are to fight! (Mt 16:19) (Eph 6:12) And He says that He wants to give us the desires of our heart (Ps 37:4). He tells us to “pray, believing we have received” (Mk 11:24 ). And we already know from Jeremiah 29:11 that “His plans for us are good, not evil, and they are to give us a hope and a future”. And that according to Ro 8:28 “all things work together for good for those who believe and are called according to His purpose.” But the bottom line is: He has the top to the puzzle box. We must trust His ways to lead us to the best!