One of the hardest things to accept as Christians, is that God is NOT always going to answer our prayers when we want Him to, in the exact way that we want Him to.
So often we submit our prayers to God, expecting instant microwaved blessings as a result. Listing every detail of what we want or think we need. We want it ‘made to order’ and ready in the exact timing that we specify.
We pray for a new relationship, asking for a specific type of man or woman. And then the person He gives us, ends up being the exact opposite of the image we crafted in our dreams.
We pray for a new job, and the job He blesses us with is something we never thought we would end up doing.
We pray for an opportunity to excel and He blesses us with an opportunity that is less than ideal but comes with a raise. Yet, we’re still mad because its not as big of a raise that we wanted.
We pray for a new car and someone literally blesses us with one – free of charge! But, its not the exact make and model we hoped for.
We send our prayers up like suggestions to God as if we could actually dictate the specifics of our blessings.
God Always Provides
God has been teaching me that His blessings are sometimes going to come in ways we don't expect, through people we least expect, and at times we're not even expecting them.
Even when God promised the Israelites that they would see the Promised Land, He told them that it wouldn't happen overnight:
Exodus 23:27-30 (NIV) - "I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
Whether our blessings from God are immediate or delayed, they always come at the right time, in accordance to God's plan for our lives.
He's not a Santa Claus God that just shows up once a year when we make a list. Or even on special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. We can't show up and "be good" only when we want something from God in return.
God is doing things in our lives every single day. Both behind the scenes and right in front of our very eyes. Don't allow Satan to have you overlook God's blessings, be impatient or complain when they come. Don't forget to be grateful and give thanks to God no matter how big or small the blessing is.
Obedience Leads to More Blessings
In fact, throughout the bible, God teaches that He pours out His blessings on those who obey His Word.
Deuteronomy 28:2 (NIV) - "All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God."
The more we get to know God and learn His Word, the more we learn to do what pleases Him. And we learn to do it, because we love Him, not just to get something in return. It is then that God begins to pour out even more blessings in our lives without us even having to ask.
Stop looking for blessings and start working on ways to obey God more. Blessings will follow!
Perseverance is Always Rewarded
So often we also forget that God doesn't promise an easy life - even for Christians. In fact oftentimes we will have to endure tough situations and circumstances in order for Him to test us. In order to grow in our faith. To be a testimony for others. To learn something new. To know God more.
If you know the story of Job, you know he was a righteous man whom God allowed to be tested. Everything was taken away from Job - his wealth and his family. But the bible teaches that in the end, after Job endured the test and remained faithful to God in the midst of tragedy and loss, that God restored Job and blessed him even more than before:
Job 42:12-17 (NIV) - "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years."
Just like obedience leads to blessings, so does faithfulness and perseverance for the things of God. Keep serving God in the midst of adversity and in a world where serving Him is not a priority. Be faithful and blessings will follow!
NOT all Blessings are Material
Last, but certainly not the least, we must realize that not all blessings are material.
So often we look for things: money, a new house, a new car, a new job. Something material that we can see, hold or feel. Things that we can show or display to others to prove significance, purpose or value.
But we forget the spiritual blessings that far outweigh any material blessing we could ever possess:
Ephesians 1:3 (NIV) - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Its those spiritual blessings that we can't physically see. The peace, the joy, the spiritual strength, the love, the hope. Its all those things God is doing on the inside of us that is changing us for the better. Those things that help us to endure anything in this life even in the absence of material things.
Material blessings come and go, as they are temporal. But its those spiritual blessings that no one can take away from you.
In your prayers and longings for blessings, don't ever forget the spiritual blessings that God has given every believer access to. The only way to miss out on these type blessings is to simply not utilize them.
We are Blessed!
At the end of the day - we are blessed! We just don't seem to realize it. I'm not saying don't pray for better things. In fact, one of our biggest blessings as Christians, is the fact that we have access to an awesome God who can do anything in our lives that we ask of Him!
I'm simply reminding you, as God has so often reminded me, that our intentions should always line up with God's Word and His plan for our lives. If and when they don't, we can't be mad, upset, shocked or complain when God answers our prayers in a way that we don't expect. Or if he tells us to wait. Or even if He says no.
We must always remember that our access to Him is a privilege. And yes we can ask for anything. But unlike Santa Claus, God is our Heavenly Father who happens to love us and does everything in accordance to what is best for us and in line with His plan for our lives.
To think that we will reap instant microwaved blessings for anything we ask for, is the wrong mindset. Plus its simply not biblical. We should continue to pray, trust, obey, and serve God faithfully. Its when we persist in doing these things that God will bless us in ways beyond what we could ever ask for.