When God doesn’t give us what we ask for

Yesterday I used my grocery store’s online order service for the first time. It was magical.

I mean, seriously—I clicked a few buttons the night before, and somebody else wheeled through the aisles while I slept. Somebody who wasn’t dragging along two children begging for Cheetos and complaining the dairy section is too cold. Then when I drove up to the pickup door—at the hour of my choosing—another somebody else loaded all the bags into my trunk. I didn’t have to lift a finger.

It was all so easy, so convenient, so on-demand. Seems that’s the new American way.

We order whatever we need from anywhere in the world, and FedEx delivers two days later. We control our television programming, our music, our podcasts—whenever we want, as much as we want.

We don’t even have to stand over a hot stove anymore to make a homemade meal. Toss it all in the Instant Pot, press a few buttons, and voila! Twenty minutes later, dinner is on the table.

I can order up so much of my life these days, it’s easy to forget—God doesn’t operate that way.

Have you ever prayed for one thing but gotten another? As if God didn’t quite read your order right.

We pray for sunshine, but God brings rain. We pray for health, but God allows the flu, diabetes, cancer. We pray for God to protect us and our loved ones, but sometimes tragedies and injustices happen.

Read this: When life doesn’t go the way you want 

And we want to know why.

But God, that’s not what I asked for! You got my order wrong! How could you do this to me?

Perhaps it’s time to revisit a core truth of our Christian faith.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9–11)

The real question here is not why, but rather, what is the definition of good? To us, cancer is not good. Financial hardship is not good. Abuse, car accidents, losing a loved one—all these things are not good. They strip us down to our bones. They tear us apart inside. Yet God allows them! He even ordains them. Is that the work of a good God?

Well, think of it this way. What if we knew what God knows? What if we could see how our lives, our struggles and our victories, the things that slay us as well as the things that bring us joy, somehow fit perfectly within God’s all-encompassing plan for the universe as a whole? For a very good purpose.

Would we want it then? No matter how much it hurts?

Crazy—but yes. We really would.

In Matthew 7:11 the word “good” comes from the Greek word “agathos,” which means “intrinsically good, good in nature, good whether it be seen to be so or not.” So no, pain does not feel good. Grief does not feel good. Not when we’re focused on ourselves and our little piece of the cosmic pie. Yet God is still and always—somehow, in ways we cannot fathom—good. Therefore, as Christ followers, our job and our privilege is to believe Him, trust Him, and lean on Him—whether we can understand Him or not.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Consider this. What if our pain isn’t just for us? What if it’s playing a significant, God-designed role in eternity for all the kingdom of heaven? Can we find just a little bit of comfort in that? “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

One day, all of God’s decisions will make sense, and our hope in the Lord will be proven right. Until then, we live by faith and not by sight. In a way, that kind of conviction takes the pressure off. We don’t need to have all the answers. We just need to trust.

For crying out loud, I trust a total stranger to do my grocery shopping for me. How can I not put so much more faith in a perfect, all-knowing, forever-loving God whose grace has saved me?

By all means, let’s continue taking advantage of modern American technology and convenience. I love my Instant Pot as much as the next gal. But let’s not allow our on-demand culture to taint our understanding of God.

He knows what we need and when we need it. He knows it better than we do. Which means next time we order sunshine and He gives us rain, let’s try something crazy.

Thank Him for the rain.

Now read this: Why it seems that God isn’t working in your life

Becky Kopitzke is the author of “The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood” (Shiloh Run Press) and the upcoming “Love Forward: Discover the Joy of Living Generously” (Bethany House, April 2018). Becky lives in lovely northeast Wisconsin with her husband and their two daughters, where her home office is overrun with bouncy balls and tween craft supplies. For weekly, keeping-it-real encouragement, visit Becky at beckykopitzke.com.


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