Julia was a brand new Christian married to an unbeliever. She came to faith several years after she got married. She attended church regularly but always by herself. In the beginning, her husband grudgingly allowed it but gave her flack and made veiled threats about “things not working out” because of the different paths their lives appeared to be taking all of a sudden. As much as she longed to, she did not dare join a small group or start getting involved in any additional church activities for fear that her husband would leave her. All she could do was pray for her husband to come to Christ. She did this for years, yet it seem as if her prayers were bouncing off the ceiling.
One Sunday morning during worship, Julia was standing directly behind a couple about the same age as herself and her husband. She could not concentrate on anything else because she was distracted by the couple. The man was worshiping with all his mind, body and soul. He sang loudly, raised his hands high and often reached over, put his arm around his wife and gave her a peck on the cheek. The wife was likewise fully engaged in worship, often looking over adoringly at her husband. Julia could feel their love for God and for each other radiating from where they stood.
Without any warning, she began to weep and it was not because the song was moving her emotionally. She was crying because she was hurting. She called out to God, “Why can’t I have that?” Her heart was breaking even as what she wanted most in her life was on display right in front of her.
She was grateful to God. She was a newborn Christian who was overjoyed that the Holy Spirit had taken up residence within her. She wanted to immerse herself in all God’s business, to serve and to help make disciples. However, there was a huge roadblock. Her husband. She often reminded herself of Saul and his amazing conversion on the Road to Damascus. If God could change a terrible person like Saul, she knew it would be nothing for Him to transform her husband’s heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh. He could make her husband a believer in a heartbeat. The question was, would He?
She was almost giddy when she thought about all she could do in the church if only she was evenly yoked. Her fanciful notions did not last long however and reality crept back in. She had questions. Why would God give her this passion for Him yet allow her husband to thwart her efforts as a servant? She knew she must honor and obey her husband; the Bible was clear about that. She must not become defiant and leave her husband for the church. What kind of message would that send about Christians? Not a good one. So why had God blessed the woman in front of her at church that day with a husband on fire for God while she was made to fight for her right just to attend worship one day a week?
Newsflash, Julia. God blesses who He wants, when He wants, how He wants.
We expect God to be a genie in a bottle who is obligated to grant our wishes just because we are Christians. The more righteous we see ourselves, the more indignant we become when we don’t get the exact blessings we want precisely when we want them. If we see someone else receiving blessings (especially if it is something we have been praying for), we start to assess whether or not that person is as worthy as we are and questioning why God would pour his blessings on them and withhold them from us.
We have limited intellect as mortals/humans, but we think we are capable of discerning the things of God. It is impossible to understand God. He knows all things and how they interconnect in the most complex and intricate ways. Even if He gave us a map to follow, it is doubtful we would ever comprehend the implications of His work through and for others.
Think about this, throughout the Bible, God “blessed” pagan leaders in ways that stupefies us even though the Bible illustrates how God used said pagan leaders to bring about HIS glory. There was always a lesson there for us. We forget it very quickly though, don’t we? But time after time, the Bible gets right in our face to make sure we see it. God blesses who He wants, when He wants, how He wants. Our failure as humans, even the most faithful Christian, is that we expect it all to make sense to US. But guess what, it doesn’t need to. God does not answer to us, we answer to Him.
We often see lack of a desired blessing as punishment or withholding of God’s favor. How many couples who have trouble getting pregnant start to feel as if somehow God is being unfair by not allowing them to get pregnant exactly when THEY have decided that it is time? Impatience and a desire to be in control can blind a person to the truth: THEIR timing is not THE timing. God blesses who He wants, when He wants, how He wants.
Think about Julia. She only sees what her husband is lacking and believes that it is holding her back in her walk with God. Just throwing it out there, but what if Julia’s husband, the unbeliever, was quietly watching his wife transform in front of his eyes. Maybe it scared him at first because he did not understand so he felt threatened and in his insecurity, he tried to reign her in. Perhaps years down the line, he saw it was not a threat, a fad or a whim; that her faith had actually changed his wife for the better. She was a kinder person, more patient, forgiving and a more loving wife. Years of watching her live out her faith might be a seed planted without either of them knowing. Maybe, just maybe Julia’s role had always been to offer the love of Christ to her unbelieving husband the only way that he would ever be willing to receive it. Perhaps there would come a day when her husband would say, “I’ve seen the changes in you and I am in awe of what you have.” That moment might be God presenting an opportunity for her to share the gospel with her husband. What if the chance to disciple someone that she longed for years before finally came and it turned out not to be a stranger but rather her husband! It is true, God could easily flip a switch inside her husband and make him a believer any time He wanted. What a BLESSING for Julia unwittingly to be the beacon of light that guided her husband to the throne where he fell upon his knees before the King of Kings. God blesses who he wants, when He wants, how He wants.
It’s very easy to think because things do not happen the way we want, when we want that we are getting the short end of the stick when it came to God’s blessings. This is when we must go back to the Bible and let God tell us yet again that He blesses who He wants, when He wants and how He wants. The people He blesses, the timing of His blessings and the way He blesses them are illustrated for us throughout the Bible. Spoiler alert! God doesn’t always take the direct path or choose the obvious person to accomplish something. What’s more, He rarely does things instantly. Much of God’s work is accomplished over long periods of time or even generations later. The thing to remember is that God is faithful. He does not give up on us. WE get impatient and give up on HIM. Sometimes it is God perfecting us through our situation that is the biggest blessing we could ever hope for.
I have said it before, God knows what He is doing. It is crazy for us to think otherwise. If we don’t get what we want, maybe we are not meant to have it because it isn’t good for us. Maybe it’s the wrong time for it. Maybe He has something much better planned instead. I think understanding and accepting the fact that God is going to do things His way and He does not owe us any kind of explanation is the key to living a life of contentment.
God wants the very best for your life. Stop questioning the plot twists in your story while The Author is still writing.
Author’s Note: This article was inspired by a sermon at Fielder Church on the topic of God’s blessings. It had a profound impact on me because I can see so many instances in my life when I have questioned who, when and how. I wanted to share, especially with those who were not there to hear the sermon. Sometimes you just need someone to say it like it is, which is what the pastor did that day. The unvarnished truth about His blessings: It is, was and always will be God’s prerogative. We don’t get a say in the matter. That’s probably a good thing!