Did you ever receive a gift that wasn’t quite what you were expecting?
Maybe you’d dropped hints to your husband that you wanted a certain designer perfume for Christmas, and instead you received…a power drill (coincidentally, exactly the one he wanted for his workshop!).
Or you were certain that your brother was going to give you a gift certificate to a spa so you could be pampered on your birthday, but somehow all you got from him was a new ironing board.
Let’s hope no one visiting this blog received the most tone-deaf Valentine’s Day gift I’ve heard of: a pre-planned funeral arrangement!
Our Father in Heaven knows how to give good gifts to His children, but He doesn’t always answer our requests in exactly the way we expected.
Sometimes God does answer our prayers directly, and gives us exactly what we asked for. A good example of this is related in Luke 18:35-43:
As Jesus was on His way to Jericho, a blind beggar heard that He was passing by. The man called out several times to Jesus, who approached him and asked this question:
“What do you want Me to do for you?”
The blind man replied, “Lord, I want to regain my sight.”
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”
The man was immediately healed of his blindness, and glorified God for the miracle he had received.
At other times, God gives us what we didn’t ask for and probably never wanted. For instance, Joseph in the Old Testament never asked to be betrayed by his brothers. He didn’t request to be sold into slavery. He never wanted to spend years in prison, far from his home and family.
But God had a bigger plan for Joseph and the children of Israel. These hardships that Joseph never asked for all played a role in saving countless people later on. It all worked out for good in the end, although it was years before Joseph could see that. His trials turned out to be a gift that benefitted an entire nation.
And then there are those special times when God gives us what we might have secretly wanted, but didn’t dare ask for. One example is related in 2 Chronicles:
One night God appeared to King Solomon and asked him, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Solomon’s request reflected humility: he wanted God to give him the wisdom and knowledge to lead the Israelites properly.
God replied, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!” (2 Chronicles 1:11-12 NLT)
Solomon asked for wisdom, and he was certainly given that: he was known as the wisest man who ever lived. But God also granted him what he didn’t ask for: fame and fortune beyond compare.
Another example of God’s unexpected blessings is found in 2 Kings chapter 4, and concerns a wealthy woman from Shunem. She’s been generous and helpful in providing lodging and food for the prophet Elisha when he came through town.
Elisha asked what could be done for her, and even offered to speak to the king or the commander of the army on her behalf. The woman, indicating that she was well provided for, didn’t ask for anything.
But Elisha’s servant happened to know that the woman was childless, and her husband was old. God decided to do a miracle for her. Elisha prophesied that by the same time next year, she would bear a son, which duly happened.
She got what she didn’t ask for: the miracle of a son.
God knows exactly what we need. He tailors His provisions and blessings to each person. Sometimes we get exactly what we asked for. Sometimes the answer to our prayer doesn’t look like what we expected, but it’s for our ultimate good.
Sometimes it’s even more than we could ask or think.
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:9-11 NLT)
The Lord always gives us good gifts, things that will be for our ultimate benefit.
They just might not come in the package you expect!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.