Barely into my teen years, I curled up each night under my double wedding-ring quilt and begged God for a boyfriend. “Please make him ask me out,” I’d pray — so earnestly, so naively — every night as I drifted to sleep.
There were several different crushes in the months of those prayers. These weren’t boys I’d met in youth group or boys in my friend group. They were the super cool boys or boys out of my league and if God had actually caused one of them to look my way I would have turned a hundred shades of crimson.
But oh did I pray for it. It was just what I wanted. If God would only answer my fervent prayer, I knew my world would be perfect.
I have thanked God untold times that He never gave me what I asked for in those prayers.
God’s plan to wait was the answer I didn’t know I needed. And His plan to later give me a tall, charming surfer from church was an answer far better than anything I could have dreamed up.
In the years since, I have prayed many other “please make this happen” prayers. Things that looked like just what we needed —
- job promotions that would have provided financial margin and a move up the corporate ladder;
- a bigger house with the kind of space that would accommodate our growing family;
- open doors and opportunities that would benefit my kids.
God in His mercy has not given me all that I asked for.
I saw this so clearly after reading the Israelites’ “please make this happen” request:
“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles.’”1 Samuel 8:19-20
For 300 years, God had governed the Hebrews. God had delivered them out of Egypt and led them into the Promised Land. God had gone before them to drive out their enemies and God had given them houses they didn’t build, fields they hadn’t planted.
But now they wanted a king.
Every other nation had a king. A king would go into battle and fight for them.
And so God gave them their heart’s desire, appointing King Saul. This was just what they needed.
Until they went up against a Philistine giant named Goliath. For 40 days, Goliath taunted Saul and his army, challenging them to send out someone who would fight him one on one.
For 40 days, not one single Hebrew stepped forward.
Wait, where was the king they’d wanted so badly? The king who they just knew was the answer and would fight for them?
God had a plan all along.
While Israel’s king watched from the sidelines, a young shepherd not even old enough for battle went out to fight for Israel.
While Israel sought refuge behind the name of a king, David sought refuge in the name of the Lord.
While Israel sought a king who would fight for them, it was God who gave Israel the victory.
Some of those things I wanted so badly, that seemed so good at the time, I now know would have wrecked me.
While, I usually thank God for what He’s done, I can only imagine how long my list would be if I thanked God for what hasn’t happened.
A door that never opened.
A relationship that never took place.
A threat that never materialized.
A virus that was fought off.
An accident He prevented.
A need He met beforehand.
A mistake He kept me from.
A path He blocked.
God’s love often withholds the very thing I think I need.
Thank you, God for all the things that never happened and all the things I never got.
Terri Brantley says
I should read this every day! Such a precious reminder Lisa! Thank you!
Lisa, I’ll bet your that girl at the 25th. High School reunion that all the guys wished they had looked a little closer at back then. Your writing is a testament to your heart and faith. Truly beautiful.
Thanks for this reminder 🙂 It truly blessed me.
Thank you Lisa
It’s a beautiful thought
Nancy Gladwin says
Again, your words reach my soul and I feel what you feel. Funny thing, the plan God planned for me is so much better than I ever could have imagined.
Lisa Appelo says
It is. God is so good to let us see some of that!
This is so very true — I’m right there with you! I can’t tell you how many times I have thanked God for not answering my prayers; not giving me what I desperately wanted at the time. Hindsight really is 20/20, and what He has given me is so much greater than what I thought I wanted back then. He knows!!
Lisa Appelo says
He’s so trustworthy and, thank goodness, merciful!
A very good eye or is it soul-opener on how to relate with God and understand His ways!! Bless you for sharing.
Patty Vansant says
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your heart and wisdom. This is so true!
Thank you Lisa for this reminder. So very true of me as well. I really need to stop, remember and thank God for each unanswered prayer too. God always knows best – something I need to remember in a regular basis with life’s challenges.
God bless you, yours and this ministry. You speak to me in every post.
Lisa Appelo says
Thank you, Denise, for your kind words. 🙂
Thank you so much Lisa,that is so true some time we want things that not good for us,and god know these things ,he step in to save us, we feel bad for not getting what we want ,but in the end it were for the better,because he has a much better plan for us, God can open doors, and he also can close
Thank you for this reminder, Lisa. Grateful He knows best and gives us just what we need.
K. Ann Guinn says
Thanks for sharing this wonderful truth. So good to remember that God’s ways are truly higher than ours, and that he has our best interests (even if painful at times) in mind.
God bless you!
Lisa Appelo says
You’re right that we do need to remember during painful times that God can only ever be faithful.
Such a good reminder, thanks! 🙂
wow, yes, “thanking God for the nots” – I really like this. It’s hard to do especially when praying specifically and consistently for something dear to your heart. But trusting His way and plan is possible and proves fruitful.
Lisa Appelo says
I can only imagine how much of this perspective we’ll get to finally see in heaven!
Lyli @ 3dlessons4life.com says
With you on this one, Lisa. When I look back at the no answers, I can now see the big yes that followed. He writes better stories than I ever will.
Tiffany Parry says
I love this, Lisa. Such a great biblical example too of God going on ahead and giving us what we think we need if only to later rescue with what was far better. I often thing of the invisible ways He works in our lives both to provide blessing and hold back curses. He is indeed a whisper close God who watches over our every breath. What a great treasure that is!
Michele Morin says
I’ve often wondered if one of the joys of heaven will be the unveiling of all the protection and provision that we have taken for granted — and the revealing of all the NO’s that have saved us so much grief.
What a great post, Lisa!
Marian Adeyemi says
WOW!!!! Look how He works… He is NEVER late when He delivers a NEEDED word! He is ALWAYS on time! I am going through a very “great” season in my life right now and He always seems to remind me through a thought, person, situation, and His very Word that He is there and brings what was out of focus into focus! What manner of love… so undeserving!
Lisa Appelo says
So glad this met you today, Marian. 🙂
Mary Carver says
Lisa, I love this. I’ve had many unanswered (or no-answered) prayers that I’m now grateful didn’t go my way. I’m so, SO grateful God knows better than I do!
Sarah Donegan says
I too am thankful for not receiving all I thought I wanted! God knows what we need and what is best for us, so I want to leave that in His more capable hands!
What a deep reminder of all the things we often overlook. God guides our every step and answers – or doesn’t answer – in ways we can’t even imagine. Thank for this Lisa. It was a needed reminder today!
Betsy De Cruz says
Wow,Lisa. You’ve opened my eyes to somethiby in a new way. I rarely think about thanking God for what He didn’t allow. He is a faithful father.
Amanda Laudadio says
oh! Just reading this now and love it. Fantastic reminder and God’s sovereignty. Thank you =) pax, amanda
Carrie Dobrodziej says
A beautiful reminder.