If I’m honest about my relationship with God, there have been times when my perception of who He is gets confused by my circumstances. A few years ago I was desperate for a new job, and I interviewed with a great company in a city I had loved visiting. I was the top pick and even started making weekly trips to Goodwill after cleaning out my closets in anticipation of a cross-country move. Then an internal candidate applied last minute and got the job. It seemed like God was dangling the carrot in front of me, but I couldn’t reach it. But God is not a tease. And He wasn’t teasing me when I applied for a job with the same company three months later. Once again I was the top candidate until, you guessed it … someone applied internally at the last minute and got the job.
The chance I was so hopeful for seemed within my grasp, and I was convinced God was opening the door for me to move. Yet it turned out to be a closed door. Twice. And at times it seemed like God was playing a cruel joke on me. Like He was holding out His hand, holding the thing I really wanted, only to snatch it away. Honestly, it seemed like God was saying, “Just kidding! You can’t have it!”
That may seem ridiculous, and it is. That’s not how God works, and His character isn’t like that, but when I focus on my circumstances instead of Christ, it can seem that way. In Matthew 7 Jesus reveals something of the character of our heavenly Father. “’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!‘”
A friend of mine went out a few times with an amazing guy, and they seemed to really hit it off. Then just as suddenly as it started, it ended, and she didn’t hear anything more from him. She was left questioning why God brought him into her life for seemingly no reason other than disappointment. From her perspective, God was teasing her with the hint of the godly man she had been praying for. And in talking with her about it, I didn’t have any wise words or encouragement to offer other than this: It comes down to trust. Not only knowing that God is a good Father who gives good gifts, but then trusting Him to still be that even when our circumstances seem to paint a different story. But isn’t that what so much of the life of faith comes down to? Trust.
Proverbs 4:11 says that God will instruct us in wisdom and lead us along straight paths. Not aimless paths that lead to nowhere, but straight paths. And He doesn’t lead us by teasing us with the carrot right in front of us. He is a loving Father who hears our prayers. He can be trusted with every part of our lives, even when we don’t see the good.