When God Withholds…

Lately I’ve been asking God for a miracle. Nothing big, nothing particularly life-changing, but one I’m yearning for nonetheless. It’s one of those things that would be against all odds. I’m boldly asking, but then just as soon as I ask, I tend to dismiss the possibility that He will actually do this thing...  

Don’t get me wrong: I believe that God CAN absolutely do what I am asking Him to do. Yet in the back of my mind, I think, “But will He?” Will He withhold from me?

There’s no doubt God often refrains from doing what I ask Him to do (I never did end up with that coveted prom queen crown). And I think the reason He does so is found in a piece of fruit back in the Garden. If everything God made in the Garden of Eden was “very good”, why was it that Adam and Eve couldn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? If we accept the two suppositions that everything God created was good and yet they were not allowed to eat from one tree, we have to assume it was GOOD that God withheld something from them.

When God withholds it is for our own good. Eve wanted a taste of the fruit more than she wanted to taste God. God, our Creator, is a good and loving Father. He knows what we need and what is best for us. But Eve thought she knew what was best for herself.

Let’s imagine for a moment a different way this whole scene could have played out. Imagine the serpent tempting Eve to sin and her saying NO. Imagine that she went to God (because He walked the garden with them) and they talked about the scenario. Imagine that He helped her to understand his plan was love and life for her and that Satan’s plan meant death and destruction. Imagine that, as He encouraged her, she felt a connection and closeness to her Creator.    Maybe she realized that this temptation would likely come up again and she would need to continually draw strength from her loving Father. Sadly this was not how things went. She could have experienced deeper connection to Him but instead she tried to “be like God.” (Genesis 3:5) If we believe that God made this tree good, it must have had a purpose. Perhaps it was to draw us closer to God instead of away from Him.

Psalm 34:8-10 says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

When it comes to areas where we sense God is withholding something from us, we should give God the benefit of the doubt. Tim Keller, pastor and author, says “God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows.”  We only see a limited view of things and we only observe our little corner of the world. We simply can’t know all the future ramifications of the desires we have (even good ones.) And at the end of the day, God primarily wants us to be in relationship with Him. He wants us fully dependent on Him, not on our plan for our own lives. Perhaps He withholds to keep  us praying and seeking- and thus cultivating that reliance on Him.

Many years ago my husband got a job offer in the Midwest. We were living in the Mid-Atlantic where we had both grown up and where all of our family was. We had four children under 7 years of age. I desperately did not want to move away from our support system. I prayed fervently that we would not have to move. But God withheld the desires of my heart. Our move and the following year proved a difficult time for me as a young mom. However, I see that God definitely used it for our good. We grew so much as a family. I learned to trust God in a deeper way. I learned to eat from his Word for encouragement and sustenance. He gave me a few Christian sisters to support me and pray with me. God’s plan was better than my plan. I definitely could not see what His plan was when He first withheld, but later, I could not deny it was for my best.

We are most satisfied when we are in communion with him. Unfortunately, as we walk on this earth, we often forget that. I think I know what I want. I think I know what I need. But ultimately what I want and need is what He wants for me.


Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2 & 3 - Tickets go on sale on Sunday, October 14 at 2 pm

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