Loving God When You Don’t Get What You Want

Loving God When You Don’t Get What You Want

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What if the special thing you hoped for did not happen? Your dream come true did not come true for you. In those moments of not getting what you want, it’s imperative that you not only see Him, who is invisible, but He must govern your innermost thoughts.

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Not Getting What You Want

There was a man who had a dream. He dreamed that he would inherit a long-awaited promise. He had been hoping for decades for his dream to come true. After years of hard labor and a consistent walk with God, he found out that he would not get that treasure. Struggle, toil, and work with an expectation of receiving something wonderful in return. He went through years full of hope and harassment, along with persecution and perseverance.

He came to the precipice of promise and found out that his work would not bring him what he had been eyeing all along. But the story and his disappointment did not end there. He realized that another person would receive his greatest desire. It’s like desiring the most fantastic Christmas present known to man and even being told that it would be yours only to find out on Christmas day that your dad gave the gift you longed for to your brother.

There you sit on Christmas day, mustering up the joy with your brother for what he received. Then, to top it off, your father asks you to teach your brother how to use his gift. Who was this man, and what was his story? His name was Moses, and his dream was to inherit the land that is now known as Israel.

By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27).

He was genuinely operating “in faith.” He believed. He was following God even though he was not sure where it was going to take him or what he would receive by obeying Him. The personal loss he would suffer by leaving his family was not high on his list either. Moses’s dilemma brings you to an excellent and penetrating question. Are you willing to follow God in obedience to God, even though you are not sure where it may take you or what you may receive because of your submission to Him?

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Disappointed Expectations

Mable is in a marriage that is not meeting her expectations. She longs, dreams, and prays for her husband, Biff, to change. Biff has not changed, and it does not appear that he will ever change. Mable is called to be obedient to her covenant relationship even in the face of not getting all that she dreams of in her marriage.

Mable is called to follow Him who is invisible, rather than pursuing her hopes and dreams that seem to be right in front of her (or sleeping beside her each night). Are you willing to follow God, in obedience to God, even if you are not sure of or in control of the outcome?

A Matter of Greater Riches

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ  greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Moses had his eye on something else, and it was this anchoring reality that empowered him to walk away from the treasures, dreams, hopes, and expectations of his world. He knew that he could not serve two masters because he would embrace the one and reject the other. He had to make a decision regarding which master he was going to dedicate his life to follow.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:13).

It is so easy for me to serve and “love” God when I am getting everything I want. Though there can be a test for this kind of prosperity, the most defining and penetrating test comes when I do not get what I want.

A Christ-Centered Haiku

I’ve pulled out the essential elements of Hebrews 11:24-26 to take a closer look.

By faith, Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer evil with the people of God, than to have the temporary fruition of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Key Elements – Faith to suffer rather than temporary pleasure because to follow Christ was a greater treasure. I put these key elements in a haiku, a Japanese poem in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables.

Faith to suffer is
Better pleasure because Christ
Is greater treasure

I think, in some ways, this haiku sums up the Christian life. It indeed summed up why Moses was willing to leave his earthly dreams, choosing a more grand and eternal idea instead. How about you? Here are some reflective questions to ponder as you compare your life with the life of Moses to think through possible changes you may need to make regarding your relationship with the Savior:

Do you believe (faith) that suffering is not only part of the Christian experience, but it is God’s will for your life? Are you “in faith” to suffer?

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Philippians 1:29).

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21).

Do you believe (faith) that Christ is a better treasure than the dreams, hopes, and expectations of this world?

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Do you believe (faith) that there is nothing in this world that surpasses the treasure that you have in Christ alone?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

The Battle for Treasure

The real issue here is what we believe (faith) is best for us. It is a faith question, a faith issue: what do I believe is the best thing for me right now? The way you will know where your treasure is and how it controls you will be how you respond when you do not get what you want when you want it.

Because Moses wanted Christ supremely, the temporary disappointments in his life did not control him. Moses had a long-sighted view into heaven, and it was that view that released him from the power that the things in his world could have held sway over him.

He saw Him, who was invisible. His eye was on the treasure. The treasure was Christ. That wealth is what ruled his heart. If your eye is steadfastly on Christ, your heart will not be controlled by the pleasures of this life, whatever they may be.

As for Moses, having the material blessing and the reputation that comes through being the son of Pharaoh was a good thing, but having Christ was a greater treasure.

As for Mable, having a beautiful marriage is a great thing, but having Christ is a greater treasure. Moses made his decision: it was Christ alone. There were no conditions attached to his faith. It was Christ, regardless.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him (Job 13:15).

Are you a conditional Christian? Is it Christ plus other things? The best way to test yourself on this question is how you respond when the “other things” you want are not given to you, or maybe they are taken away from you.

It’s an absolute test. How you respond when you don’t get your way will tell you immediately what your level of Christian maturity is. While there are some things you can fake, your response to disappointment is not one of those things.

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The Rest of the Story

The beginning of Deuteronomy has the Israelites positioned on the wilderness side of the Jordan River, about ready to crossover into the land of promise. Moses begins a lengthy communique about where they have been, where they are, and what to expect when they pass over. Moses is speaking:

The LORD God said I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them (Deuteronomy 1:8).

The big idea here is that Moses knows that he is not going to crossover with them, but it is as though it did not matter. Knowing Moses, it did not matter. This concept reminds me of my children when they were younger, as they were getting into our van.

Inevitably, someone will “call their seat.” What that means is that one of them will say, “I get the window,” which means whoever called the window seat gets it. Moses was not as self-centered as my children. For eighty years, he had been “calling his seat.” He bent his entire adult life toward the land of promise, and on the eve of experiencing the dream fulfilled, the Lord denied it.

So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan’” (Deuteronomy 31:1-2).

It did not matter to Moses. Sitting in the middle or sitting by the window was irrelevant to him. His eye was not on the dirt across the Jordan but on a heavenly city. He had deferred hope in something grander than dirt.

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo. And the LORD showed him all the land…and the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD (Deuteronomy 34:1-5).

Does it matter if you don’t get your dream fulfilled?

Call to Action

  1. If your dreams for this world matter to the point of controlling your thoughts and behaviors, may I suggest that you print this article and sit down with the Lord? Read it, pray over it, and ask Him to change you. Ask the Father to give you a bigger and grander vision for the things that matter the most to Him.
  2. Make the following prayer your prayer as you pray your thoughts to Him. Spend some time over the next few days journaling, in whatever way God impresses your heart, through your thoughtful meditations.
  3. And be sure to read, study, pray, and reflect on the Bible verses in this article. Take your time as God searches your heart to help you see what needs to change in you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24)!

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