There are a lot of verses in the Bible that seem to indicate God wants His children to be healthy and wealthy, or at least receive the things they ask Him for. 29:11 is one of them.
So is John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.“
And Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.“
There are dozens more. You probably can come up with some off the top of your head, too. God promises to bless His people, to answer our prayers. And I believe Him.
But I look at the Bible as a whole and see many, many examples of God’s children not receiving what they ask for. Believers who are sick, tortured, poor. Paul said he prayed three times about something and God never granted him what he wanted.
So which is it? Is God true to His word, or not?
More than we ask or think!
We are short-sighted if we limit God’s promises to the material. Yes, God answers our prayers for physical healing, or financial relief. Sometimes He gives us the desires of our hearts. But not always.
If we limit God to answering only our material needs, we miss out on the greater thing. How does God prosper His children?
I am with you always… (Matthew 28:20)
Peace I give you… (John 14:27)
If you confess your sins… I will forgive… (I John 1:9)
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Remain in me and I will remain in you… (John 15:4)
I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am… John 14:3)
There are more. God promises His presence, His strength, His joy, His righteousness, His help in our time of need. Someone told me once that I can believe all that because I’m not hurting, I’m not hungry, I’m not homeless, I’m not being persecuted. But I know there are hurting, hungry, homeless, and persecuted people who know the truth of these promises even better than I because of their circumstances.
The interesting thing to me about this is that, the closer I get to God, the more time I spend with Him in His Word and in prayer, the more I find His desires become mine. I think less about my physical comfort, and more about reaching the lost, or more about the needs of my neighbors. My prayers become more about others than about myself.
My friend, Toni, lived much of her life in great pain. She had a disease called HS from the time she was a child, and doctors were unable to do much to help her. But she never lost her joy in the Lord. She never lost her servant’s heart even on those days it was hard to move.
There is a youth convention in Atlanta held on New Years day each year, and Toni felt led to volunteer on New Years Day last year, 2017. She had such a burning desire, but common sense told her it was too much for her, as her pain had increased to an almost unbearable level. She talked to her husband. They prayed. And they went.
My friend was a greeter at that conference for hundreds of teenagers. Her job was to hold the door, and welcome the kids as they went into the worship services. She said she “fist-pumped” dozens and dozens of young people that day. In fact, she came home with bruised knuckles. But, she said, “I felt called to be a door holder.”
Four months later, she was diagnosed with colon cancer that had already spread. Her pain, that she thought was from her HS, was in fact from the cancer that was destroying her organs. But I will tell you, even with this devastating news, Toni believed in the plans God had for her, plans to prosper (her) and not to harm (her), plans to give (her) hope and a future.
God has plans. His plans include showering you with the forgiveness Jesus’ blood bought for you. He wants to fill you, build you up, be your joy and confidence. He wants to draw near to you, to walk with you, and finally, to bring you home to be with Him forever.
That’s where my friend lives today. She’s finally home.
Our road might be hard. Or we might enjoy the physical comforts of this world. But with Paul, let’s “learn to be content whatever the circumstances… whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need…” (Philippians 4:12-13)
And let’s trust God to bless us with Himself, to give us what we need when we need it and not a moment before. Let’s give Him our hearts, and let Him work out the rest as we obey Him.
Let’s trust God’s plans.