My six-year-old daughter and I were doing a Bible study together that introduced the topic of purity. We had some pretty entertaining discussions, and I realized that it’s much harder to explain ideas like God’s sovereignty and purity to a six-year-old than it is to explain them to another adult. I never quite knew what would come out of her mouth during our meeting.
One night, as we talked about the beauty of God’s sovereignty in planning our futures — and how if God calls her to be married, he has already picked out just the right husband for her — she looked at me with concerned eyes.
“Mom, what if I don’t like the person God wants me to marry?”
And then, with even more concern, she said, “What if the man he wants me to marry isn’t — you know — very good-looking?”
Part of me wanted to chuckle at these extremely candid questions. But really, I have asked the same questions in different ways. The question isn’t as simple as, “What if I don’t like the man I am supposed to marry?” but rather, “Do I trust that God is for me and gives good gifts to his children?”
Matthew 7:11 reminds us that, if we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.
Is God Giving Me His Best?
It can be easy to look at the less-than-ideal circumstances that surround us and wonder whether God is saving the best for someone else. I became a Christian my freshman year of college. I had been dating my Christian boyfriend since my senior year of high school, and by the time I finally realized what a gift his faith was, and that I really desired to marry him, he (wisely) had become convinced that we needed to break up. It was devastating. I looked around at my other slim prospects for marriage at my 40,000-student, secular university and was not encouraged.
Sunday mornings were often a desolate time in the cafeteria before I headed off to church by myself. Plus my heart was aching for the young man who had gone after God wholeheartedly and left me in the dust. But in God’s goodness to me, the sadness of my soul caused me to crack open my dusty Bible and begin reading and searching for comfort.
I stumbled upon Psalm 84:11. “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
In my immature, bare-bones faith, I clung to this single promise with all I had. It became the words that lifted my heart out of despair. God protects us. He gives us hope like a ray of sunshine. He blesses us with his favor. And the best part was his promise to withhold nothing good from those who walk with him.
So, I reasoned in my mind and heart that as long as I was seeking the Lord and following him, he would give me only what was good for me. The young man I so desired to be with was not who I needed during those two years.
I had to trust that for whatever reason, God deemed it good and right for me to be single for the time. He deemed it good and right for the aching in my soul to cause me to turn to him for comfort and hope, instead of a relationship with a man. And whether he chose to bless me with marriage or singleness, Psalm 84:11 promised me that God wasn’t going to give me second best. He wasn’t hiding his gifts from me, but was blessing me instead.
No Ultimate Good Withheld
So, when my daughter questioned me about possibly having to marry someone she doesn’t like, or doesn’t find attractive, I directed her to the promise of Psalm 84:11. God will give only good gifts to those who are following him. And although those gifts might not be exactly what we would plan for ourselves, nonetheless they are precisely what we need — for our ultimate good. (And I think this promise will ensure that my daughter, if she does marry someday, will actually like her future husband and even find him attractive. He will shape her heart to do so.)
In God’s good providence, that young man who broke my heart came back into my life just before my senior year of college. We were married shortly after graduation. I look back at Psalm 84:11 as the verse that sustained me and gave me hope those two long years while we were apart — and would have sustained me if he hadn’t come back.
So, for the single person waiting for a spouse, the young married woman longing for a positive sign on the pregnancy test, the new graduate waiting for a first job offer, or even the young mom who just received the devastating news of a positive cancer test, those of us who are hoping in Christ and following his path can trust that he will not hide any gift from us for our ultimate good.
Instead, he will lavish us with the blessings he deems fit for our lives, even when we don’t yet see how they are good.