Preaching that says, “God wants to give us all we want,” gives me great sorrow. Why? Unless we have truly surrendered all our wants and want nothing other than whatever he wants, that’s a lie that leads us to some very wrong conclusions about our pain and suffering.
I believe this is the correct translation of Psalm 37:4—“Delight in what the Lord wants, and he will change your desires.” Yet many Christians believe this verse proves that God is our Santa Claus, eager to fill our wish lists, as if by my saying, “I’m a good little boy, God will give me health and wealth and anything else I might ask for.” If I think God is my Cosmic Bellhop, I should remember that Jesus said he would lighten the load. He didn’t say he would carry all my bags for me (Matthew 11:29–30). Instead, he promises to leave me with no burden, temptation, or test that I am unable to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I’ve seen too much of God’s glory to believe I know my needs better than God does. He sees everything, even the death of one worthless sparrow, and I have much more value than a whole flock of sparrows (Luke 12:6–7). Jesus said, “God knows my needs before I ask” (Matthew 6:8). That’s a nice way of saying, without the Holy Spirit to direct my prayers, I only know what I want. I don’t know what I need, but since God does, I can trust his total control to work everything for my good (Romans 8:28).
God could change my circumstances as easily as I take a breath. Nothing can stand in the way of what God can do for someone who has fully submitted to his direction. But that surrender requires a transformed mind and changed desires. It’s easy to say I surrender but not so easy to do. That transformation begins with what many Christians refuse to do. What’s that? Accept the reality that God uses what I’m going through to teach me, guide me, and keep me trusting him. Through the hardships, not the easy times, he will strengthen my faith and brighten my testimony.
With a Father who knows and supplies my needs all the time, I can rejoice in my suffering and strive to do what is right as I keep surrendering to his will. I don’t need a Santa Claus.
Do not trouble yourselves with questions like “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” People who do not know God seek such things, but your heavenly Father already knows what you need. — Matthew 6:31–32