So, I heard a sermon by Buddy Owens last night. The sermon was about being filled with the Holy Spirit, but there was one line in his prayer that completely grabbed my attention! He said, “Thank you, Father for all that You have withheld from me.”
That is a completely foreign concept to me! I mean, we’re taught to thank God for all that He’s given us. We’re taught to come to Him and ask for all that we desire, but I’ve never heard anyone teach me to thank God for all that He has withheld!!
That’s a peculiar thought in this church culture that often preaches a prosperity gospel.
I started to think about all the times in my life that God has withheld things from me. The first thing that came to mind was when I begged God over and over for two years to bring my dad home after he had left my mom. He never came home. It rocked my world!
Then, I started thinking about the kids in Africa that I begged God to make mine. He still hasn’t.
Currently, I am asking God to keep my kids from making mistakes that will impact them for the rest of their lives. Will He answer?! What if His answer is no?
What do you do when God says no? When God withholds something that seems so good to you? Do you thank Him?
I honestly don’t think that’s a natural response. I believe that kind of response comes from years of walking with God and knowing Who He is. It comes from a place of deep trust in God, a place that believes He is good even when it doesn’t feel good.
It makes me think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He only withheld one thing from them…a piece of fruit. To Eve, it looked good. Genesis 3:6-7 says, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to make one wise, she took its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
Oh, how I wish she had trusted God in that moment!! Oh, how I wish that she would’ve listened to His Word and not the word of the enemy!! Oh, how creation has suffered because she ran after the one thing that God was withholding from her!!
As I reflect over my lifetime and all the times God has withheld something from me, I can now see His hand using all of those “no’s” to shape me into the woman I am today. I can say with 100% certainty that I am more like Christ for having suffered from the “no’s”. So, I thank Him!
I thank Him for withholding things from me that I hold dear.
I thank Him for being wiser than I am.
I thank Him for knowing the whole plan from beginning to end.
I thank Him for holding me through the hurt.
I thank Him for His goodness and His kindness in the midst of the “no’s”.
I thank Him for His nearness in my darkest hour.
I thank Him because, although I may never understand the why on this side of Heaven, I know my God, and I know He is good and that He is for me and not against me. I thank Him because He is God and I am not.
If you’re hurting because God hasn’t given you what you want, what you’ve asked for, I encourage you to trust Him and to thank Him!! He is doing something that you wouldn’t believe even if He told you. He’s shaping you into the image of Jesus. Trust Him and thank Him today!!