"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!"|
- Matthew 7:9-11 NIV
A while back, I received a letter from a young woman who felt desperate and needed prayer. A certain young man had caught her attention by repeatedly flirting with her. She, in turn, did everything she could to try to win his heart, and yet she eventually discovered that his true love was someone else entirely. Exasperated, she began earnestly praying that the Lord would make a way for her to be with her dream man. When her prayers went unanswered, she turned to me for advice. Her fervent plea nearly broke my heart--"Please pray for me in this situation, and if you have any idea why the Lord would be keeping him from loving me, then please write and let me know what you think!" After I sought the Lord about how I should respond to this woman, I led her to Jesus' words in Matthew 7:9-11 (NLT): "You parents--if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him." I told her that even though she might not want to hear the truth, it's very likely that the Lord was keeping this young man from her because he was a "snake" to her. I told this young woman that she had two choices: She could either insist on having her own way--and get involved in a relationship that wasn't God's best for her, risking a lifetime of regret--or she could put her trust in the Lord, and humbly and patiently wait upon Him for the blessed relationship He had planned for her.
I know from personal experience what it's like to be involved with a "snake." Before I met my husband, I wasted three years of my life in a relationship that was out of God's will for me. For a long time afterwards, I carried around a multitude of emotional scars from this negative experience, and I discovered firsthand how being in a wrong relationship can have devastating effects on every area of a person's life. The Bible says: "Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life." (Proverbs 4:23 TLB) Thankfully, the Lord sent me my husband, Joe, and He helped me to put enough of my past hurts behind me to embrace this relationship as His best for me. We've been happily married for almost 30 years now, and I have never regretted choosing God's will.
Just before Jesus talks about the good gifts that God wants to give us, He says: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV) The Savior urges us to earnestly pray for our needs and desires, but He reminds us that we would be wise to trust God with the answers. I've raised two sons, and I can tell you that when my children have asked me for something that I know would do them more harm than good, as a loving parent, I would not give it to them. If we truly believe that God loves us and wants what is best for us, we will learn to put our wholehearted trust in Him, when He chooses not to answer our prayers the way we had hoped.
Just as God wants us to desire and receive good things from Him, Satan wants us to desire and receive evil things from himself. (John 10:10) He will tempt us with wrong relationships, and wrong opportunities of every kind. He will do everything he can to keep us from trusting God, and from waiting upon Him for His best. But we can choose God's will in every situation and circumstance, if we will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. What "snakes" are you praying for today? Ask the Lord to reveal them to you, and to help you lay hold of the "good gifts" He has in store for you!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for inviting me to "ask, seek, and knock." When I desire or pray for "snakes," I ask that You reveal it to me, and change my heart so that I can receive Your very best. Today, I choose to believe Your precious promise which says--"Every good and perfect gift is from above!” (James 1:17 NIV)
- J. M. Farro