There’s a verse in Psalm 37 that says: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
I realize that this does not mean that God will give us whatever we want. It means that if we truly delight ourselves in Him, we will desire Him and His pleasure–which is exactly what He wants (and promises) to provide. He will grant us more of Himself in every circumstance.
So I don’t have any problem with that. (Well, any problem except putting it into practice.)
But what about the delighting-in-Him heart desires that He doesn’t give us? Things that we know bring Him pleasure? Things that we are more than confident are inside His revealed will? What then?
Marriage. Children. Health. Salvation of loved ones. The spread of the gospel. Freedom from sin. Deliverance from sinful men.
These are all good, God-honoring desires of good, God-honoring saints that I know. Often, they have been fervent prayers of these precious hearts that delight in Him for longer than I’ve been alive. Can you imagine? I cannot. Thus far in my life, I’ve only experienced such things second hand. Yet even still, for their sake and mine, I struggle to come to terms with this simple truth: to all appearances, God’s answer is ‘no’.
Yes, I know that God knows best. That He uses these things to strengthen faith, to draw us closer to Himself, to increase our delight in Him and Him alone.
But what about His promise? Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Ask and it shall be given to you. The Lord hears the prayer of the righteous, and His ear is attentive to their cry. Whatever you ask in My name, I will give you.
I don’t have an answer.
Only this, from Paul, who suffered at the hands of sinners, watched those he loved suffer at the hands of sinners, struggled with his health, was not always married, mourned his own sinfulness, fathered children not related to him by blood, was betrayed by his closest friends, pled for salvation of souls, suffered unto death for the cause of Christ, and delighted in Him above all:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
I don’t have an answer.
Only this, from Christ, who perfectly delighted in His Father and yet suffered beyond what any of us will ever face (beyond even comprehension) for our sake:
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God–believe also in Me…I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you…As the Father loved me, I also have loved you: abide in My love.
I will never leave you nor ever forsake you.
There is much I don’t understand. Only this, regardless:
These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. –Jesus
Hold fast; keep the faith; finish the race: kept by the power of God –Paul