“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
(Matthew 7:7-11 ESV)
I have always loved that passage. I love the concept that God is my Father and that He desires to give good gifts to His children. But, at the same time, those precious words of Jesus can be very perplexing. Many people see this passage and assume it means that Jesus will give us all that we ask of Him. And when we don’t get what we expect, we are left confused and often distraught. We may think we’ve done something wrong or that God doesn’t really love us or that we don’t know how to ask properly. But the question isn’t “Does God really give us good things?” rather “What is His ‘good’?”
Paul says in Roman 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Once again we see that God works all things together for the good of His children. But the question still remains, “What is His good?”
For me, I often dwell on my idea of what would be good for me or my family or my friends and when things don’t turn out as I think they should; I despair. But, the Bible is clear that God promises good things to His children and that if we ask, we shall receive. So how do we reconcile it all?
Let’s look again at Romans 8. Back in verse 26 and 27, Paul says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Wow, that passage always blows me away! The Spirit of God is constantly interceding on our behalf, even when we don’t know what we should pray for or if we have difficulty finding the words to pray. But the key phrase in those two verses is “according to the will of God.”
The more I’ve prayed and sought God, the more He’s helped me not only to pray for His will but also realize that His will for me (or others I pray for) or His “good” for me doesn’t always look like the picture I have in my head of “good”.
But, His good is always best. He sees the big picture of my life. He knows what needs to happen daily to direct me to His ultimate good plan for me. And the more I pray, seeking His will, and asking for good things keeping in mind that His ways are best, the more I’m able to see God answer my prayers in amazing ways. And often times I’m able to see clearly how His “good” really is the best.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14 ESV)