I’ve defined contentment before as trusting so in God’s promise that all is for His glory and our good. Thanks to Katy for the question of the week, which is a natural follow-up to that concept.
If we pray expectantly, laying our requests before our Savior seeking an answer, does that mean that we’re not really trusting God in our circumstances?
If I was really content with singleness, wouldn’t I stop asking God for a husband? If I really trusted and believed that He was doing what was best for me, wouldn’t I stop begging Him to change my circumstance?
The short answer is no. The long answer is longer.
Petitioning God is evidence that you trust God, not evidence that you don’t.
The surest way to tell if you trust that God is to examine your interaction with Him. Think about the deepest desires of your heart. What you do with those testifies to what you believe about God.
We’re called to bring our requests to God, not in spite of the fact that we trust him, but because we trust Him.
I wrestle with this. It seems like begging God for things would either be an overflow of discontentment or lead to disappointment. It sounds godlier to just ask for something once: calmly or quietly and then get over it.
God isn’t a vending machine. He doesn’t exist to give us something we want. We are called to hope fully in Him, not in His gifts. But believing this and trusting Him doesn’t result in not asking Him for the things we want.
The reason I hold back my requests from God is not that I trust Him so deeply with my heart and life. That sounds good on paper, but it’s just not true. The reality is, I cannot bear to give the things most precious to me tearfully over to him and then have them not happen. I am terrified of being disappointed in God. I am cynical. I don’t want to look like an idiot. And I don’t want to set God up to fail me.
And unfortunately, because of that, my life testifies that God is either unable or unwilling.
A man in the court of Alexander the Great once approached him to ask for some money. Alexander loved the guy so he told him to just go to the treasury and ask for whatever he needed. The man did exactly that, but the amount of money he requested was ridiculous. It was obscenely high, so the treasurer refused, convinced that Alexander the Great could never have approved that large an amount.
When Alexander heard, he told the treasurer, “Pay the money at once. The man has done me a singular honor. By the largeness of his request he shows that he has understood both my wealth and generosity.”
Far from being offended, the boldness and the extravagance of the man’s request was an honor to the King. It reflected that the man really believed Alexander was both able and willing. Does the way you approach God testify that you believe He is both infinitely wealthy and infinitely generous?
In the Fall of 2009 one of my dearest friends got engaged. A few months before her wedding was scheduled to take place, her fiancé – a pilot – went missing during a routine flight. For three weeks, we watched and hoped and prayed for him to be found. As the days went by, I watched grace and faith flow out of my friend that both humbled me and terrified me.
I was worried. I was worried that if we prayed boldly God would look foolish if her fiance wasn’t found. I was worried people would point at our faith and call it a sham. I was worried about how I would personally react if I joined her on my knees and begged God for something that didn’t happen.
I was worried for her. She petitioned God so fervently. She was so confident that He was the kind of God was both willing and able. I was worried about how she would respond if things didn’t turn out as she wanted.
Then, after three weeks of seeking God, an answer came to our prayers. It came in the form of a tragic ‘no’. No, God would not return my sweet friend’s fiancé to her in this life.
And it was in the moment that the news came that I finally understood. I realized my friend poured out her heart so visibly and unashamedly, with no guard and no back up plan – not because she didn’t trust God, but because she did. She petitioned God because she believes He is who He says He is; she believes He is both powerful enough and loving enough to have saved her fiancé. And when His answer came, her deep trust in Him became even more evident:
“the days ahead will be difficult, but I see so much more clearly now the lovingkindness of the Lord in the vagueness of the past 3weeks. I would’ve been destroyed had things hit all at once. He was merciful in elongating the separation of my sweetest love. Over these 21 days God’s prepared me and held my heart in every beat and every gush of pain. I know while I will mourn greatly, God is with me.”
My friend knows God. As a result, she is freed up to ask Him for the things she wants most without fear. She doesn’t need to hedge her bets when she prays because she trusts Him. She begs Him with no restraint and worships Him when He responds. She is certain that He is both loving and mighty and that leads her to pray like crazy and have peace with whatever He brings.
When her planned wedding day came she wrote the following:
…and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” Isaiah 62:5
The purpose of marriage is to reflect the gospel. As a bride makes herself beautiful for her wedding, so we become refined daily by the Holy Spirit to become more & more beautiful for our bridegroom Christ. He waits with eager anticipation for the day we run down the aisle…to Him!
Thank you everyone who is sending love & prayers my way! Today I was going to marry Joe, but God had a more beautiful plan to take Joe one step closer to gospel matrimony. So I think it appropriate to focus on the Wedding feast we as believers will have with God one day, when His Son returns to marry His church bride forever.