And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
Matthew 16:26 NLT
My four-year-old loves fire trucks. He gets so excited every time we pass a fire station or he hears sirens. He loves to talk about how they are “real city heroes.” He has quite a collection of fire trucks, fire truck bedding, and pajamas. Despite his vast collection (which I occasionally thin when he isn’t looking) he still asks for more. Every fire truck toy he sees he asks for in the sweetest voice. He knows how to smile, tilt his head, and bat his eyes at me to get the best results. As his mother, I know that giving him every fire truck toy he sees wouldn’t be good for him. As a result, we occasionally leave a store with giant crocodile tears streaming down his cheeks. I know that too many toys create an overstimulating environment that hinders the brain development of a growing child and squashes creativity, this short-lived sadness will help him in the long run. Fire trucks are good toys but having all the fire truck toys is not good.
He also does this with brownies, often asking for me to make them late at night. Clearly, brownies are not a healthy late-night snack and so the answer of “no” seems more logical to us all. When I do make them he occasionally wants to eat the whole pan. Most parents wouldn’t think twice about saying no. The danger is obvious even with this good thing.
We often want things in our lives that are good and great. Relationships, houses, jobs, cars, platforms, statuses, and even ministries are all things many people put their hopes and dreams into. We may strive for them and try to obtain them by our own doing or we may pray for them only to have the door shut in our face. They aren’t inherently bad, but they may not be for our good. Many people go into crisis mode when they don’t get what they want. They blame God or accuse Him of not loving them like He loves others when all along He knows what is best for us and is protecting us. Thankfully, my son has never accused me of this for not giving in to his requests.
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, 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 11:11-13 NLT
That relationship you begged God for? It may be a serpent disguised as a fish. The job you begged for? It would have kept you at the office 60 hours a week and stressed you out the rest of the time you were home. The ministry you wanted? That wasn’t where the biggest impact would have been, or maybe it would have broken you because you weren’t prepared for the demands of it. What about the platform, what harm could come from being a public voice who tells the world about God? He knows the need for real-life community to keep you grounded in faith and not spiraling into a depression that often hits influencers. He knows the process we need to walk through to be prepared and firm in our faith before stepping into the next chapter.
Other times, we are fully aware that the things we want are not beneficial. Either from immaturity or from demonic influence, we sometimes desire things we should not have. A pan of brownies, cigarettes, vaping, drugs, or lusting after another person. We know all of these things are bad and often they separate people from interacting with the Father. A person driven by lust isn’t going to pray to get what they want, they will either fight the urge or go after it by their own power. Someone "eating their feelings" is turning to food for comfort instead of the Father. Out of immaturity, my preschooler may hide and try to eat the brownies, separating himself from me in the process. Like the Father, I would go looking for him to pull him out of the danger. This is not done out of anger but out of a love for him and a desire to see him grow strong, healthy, and mature. This isn't done from a position of forcing him to follow my rules, it is done out of concern for his wellbeing.
God is always for you, not against you. His love for you is so deep that He will go to the darkest places to pull you out and into safety. His love for you will say no knowing that it will hurt for a time and even knowing that you may pout at Him while blaming Him for not getting what you want. But know this, His no is always a yes to a different opportunity.
My challenge for you is this: The next time you feel like God has shut a door in your face, thank Him for looking out for you and ask Him what door is for your good. The next time you want something that you are not willing to go to the Father about, immediately find Godly council and tell them the urges you are facing. There is freedom in sharing and breaking the shame of the struggles of the mind.
Finally, know this: The Father loves you. He is not ashamed of you. He calls you His own and is not hurt by your frustrations and questions. He has good plans for you and will gently guide you to them if you are willing.
“'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'”