Yesterday our pastor preached the second sermon in a three-part series on the Lord’s Prayer. As he expounded on the clause, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he made the distinction between needs and wants that most preachers make when preaching on this clause. I expected no less from him.
I got more than I expected, however.
He commented that God, because He is sovereign, gets to determine what our actual needs are.
Did you catch that?
We might think we know our needs, but the Lord knows what we really need in order to better conform to His image. Health might enable someone to go on the mission field, for instance, but sickness might enable someone else to proclaim the Gospel to medical personnel and caregivers. A new car might enable someone to give people rides to church, while an old car with problems might teach someone else patience and dependence on the Lord. Only God knows what each person truly needs to glorify Him.
Such thinking goes against the entitlement mentality that permeates Western society so deeply that even Christians fall into it. So often, we convince ourselves that we deserve certain blessings. And when the Lord denies us those blessings, we convince ourselves that we He is cheating us. We usually don’t admit to feeling cheated, of course, but we do feel that way.
And we allow those feelings to fester until we’re angry.
We’ve all seen angry rants on Facebook by people who deem their circumstances unfair and think their lives should be easier. Sadly, some of these rants come from professing Christians. Perhaps they’ve even come from you! And we allow ourselves to think that God tolerates our rants because our adverse circumstances offend Him as much as they offend us.
The truth is, dear ladies, those circumstances that we fancy as offending Him are probably circumstances that He designed to glorify Himself in our lives.
65 You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
68 You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
69 The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
70 their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
72 The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces. ~~Psalm 119:65-72 (ESV)
That’s decidedly not a “best life now” passage, but it demonstrates a deep faith in God’s good purposes as He brings us through trials that we want to avoid. The psalmist doesn’t shake an angry fist at His adversity. On the contrary, he praises God for bringing him to repentance through them and affirms that affliction has brought him closer to God.
Our needs, you see, go far deeper than our temporal well-being. More than anything else. we need those things that draw us closer to the Lord and enable us to glorify Him. He alone knows what those needs really are.