This week I started a new job and it has been a crazy time of stepping right into my new role and learning as I go. Despite the challenges of this new start, I am so thankful to be in the place that I feel like God has called me and to experience the peace and fulfillment that comes with trust and obedience, but honestly it all truly feels like a gift that I don’t deserve.
My boss and I dropping off a year long volunteer I will be working with.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened…If you then, who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
This section of Matthew chapter 7 is a really cool promise from God, but when we are going through difficult times and feeling like God is not hearing our prayers, it is difficult to understand where everything fits together. However, just because it doesn’t feel like God is giving us what we want, we have confidence that He will fulfill His promise. God wants to hear what is on our heart, He wants to talk to us about our deepest longings because He is our loving Father who cares about the smallest things like the number of hairs on our heads. He promises that when we ask, seek, and knock, we will receive, find, and be welcomed with an open door.
A view from the rural town outside of where our volunteer will be working.
Notice it doesn’t say, whatever you ask for, God will give you exactly what you want exactly how you want it. Though this is what I wish it would say sometimes, Jesus’ promise is much better. He promises good gifts. He promises to stay God. He promises to bestow on us His wisdom that reaches beyond our everyday longings that are often tied to our fleshly nature including selfishness, jealousy, and ignorance. He knows that things we ask for from this kind of heart are not good gifts; they will not truly satisfy us.
On the other hand, He does promise gifts that will satisfy, bring life, and draw our hearts closer to the one who created them. I think sometimes as Christians we forget this side of our faith. We know that the path Christ has called us to may not be easy. Our journeys often mirror the walk of Jesus to the cross where he was spit on, beaten and mocked, though he was the perfect Son of God that came to save the world.
But in the midst of pain and difficulty, I would encourage you, as I also need to encourage myself, that we must continue to ask, seek, and knock. We must believe that God’s gifts to us are good and exactly what we need. Look around for God’s gifts in your present situation, even if all it seems at the moment is hard, and fix your hope on the future of good gifts tied to this promise in Matthew 7.
My journey here in Zambia, especially when it comes to work, was much more difficult than I expected. I expected to be delighted in every aspect of the culture and embraced by the locals. I thought working for a non-profit was the fantasy I had always dreamed of when I would read about horrible things going on around the world, and I finally had something tangible I could do about it.
Instead, I realized I didn’t love everything about the culture, non profits are much more complicated than what it seemed, and at the end of the day, my life here, in and of itself, would not satisfy my deepest longings even if everything seemed to work our exactly how I wanted.
Sometimes my negative feelings led to asking, seeking, and knocking for the good gifts God promises to provide, and other times I settled for anger, complaining and overall sadness about reality. God is faithful. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and there were good gifts all along.
“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
God’s promise for good gifts is not in line with the prosperity gospel that lies to us and says once we find Jesus life is easy, or if we follow the commandments of God then he will give us all the material gifts we ever dreamed of. He is after our hearts. We must ask Him how we are to live; we must seek his face in everything, and knock where we feel He has called us to go. Our treasure must be Him, and our deepest longings will be satisfied. Difficult times will come, but with each day there is a new morning and a new chance to see God’s good gifts and rejoice in his faithfulness.