God gives better gifts than what we ask for
God gives better gifts than what we ask for
Can you think of a time when you really wanted something, and you didn’t get it? And looking back now, you think, “Phew! I dodged a bullet on that one!”
Like the time in college when I auditioned to be on The Real World. (For those of you under 25, the Real World was the very first reality TV show. And it was terrible.) But I was a sophomore, and they came to my school to look for cast members. I said, “Why not?” I made it through a few rounds of auditions, but then they turned me down. Back then, I was so bummed. I moped around for a week, moaning, “I’m not on the Real World.” But now, I can’t believe how blessed I am: “Thank you Lord, I’m not on the Real World!”
Because God only gives his children things that will be good for them. As it says in the Bible, “The lions may grow weak and hungry; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Psalm 34). Many people don’t believe that. They can think of ten good things they’re lacking right now. But if you’re one of God’s kids, that Psalm reassures you: if that thing would be good for you, you would already have it. If you don’t have it, it’s not good. At least not for you. At least not right now.
God only gives what’s good. And ultimately, he gives us gifts that are infinitely better than what we ask for. That’s what Jesus says:
If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)
You might ask for a house. A car. A husband. And God, our generous Father, might give all those things to you. But even better than all those things, God gives wants to give you his Spirit. In other words, he’ll give you himself! That’s better than anything else he could give you.
Know why? Because you can’t lose him. You can lose everything else. You can lose your house. We saw that in Houston this week. They say 40,000 homes were destroyed last week, and more than 80% of them had no flood insurance. So those houses will never be rebuilt. You can lose your car. They now say more than a million cars were totaled in Houston last week. That’s every car on Oahu. Gone. Maybe you think that would make for great traffic during rush hour, but you’d be riding your skateboard to work.
You can lose your house, you can lose your car, you can lose your loved ones. But you can’t lose God. The Spirit will never leave you. And the Bible says when you have his Spirit, he’ll give you God’s acceptance. How much do you worry about people liking you? How hard do you work to earn the acceptance of the people around you? You can have God’s approval through the Spirit.
Every gift you receive from God is meant to remind you of God’s greatest gift: himself.
Every gift you receive from God is meant to remind you of God’s greatest gift: himself. In his book Letters to Malcolm, C.S. Lewis says this:
I have tried to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different. Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
To understand what he’s saying, we have to remember that he was writing in England, where a beam of sunlight is almost as rare as a snowflake in Makaha. After a month of damp and dreary days, a single break in the clouds allowing a few seconds of sunshine to fall on your face would be a breathtaking experience. You would close your eyes, lift your face up to the sky, and bask in the warmth.
But according to Lewis, it would be a mistake to keep your eyes closed for long. We need to look up and trace that sunbeam back to its source. That’s how we can learn to appreciate the giver more than his gifts.
- Did God give you an unexpected raise or promotion? What does that say about his provision?
- Did he let you dodge the bullet after you made a big mistake? What does that say about his mercy?
- Did he give you a friend who supported you through a crisis? What does that say about his love?
God gives us great gifts, but even better is the gift of himself. So we can pray with the Psalms: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:24)