The Grace of Withholding

We are arrogant creatures, are we not?

When it comes right down to it, most of us tend to reasonably comply with the laws and regulations that fit our own understanding or thought processes, but scoff and disregard others that don’t make any sense to us. We think something is a good step if it makes sense to us. We tend to see someone’s actions as stupid if it doesn’t fit our frame of reference.

Most of the things that we determine are good or bad are based upon what we have reasoned are the right things. Even on hot-button issues in our society, much of our villainization of those who hold opposing views comes from the fact that, to us, our perspective is clearly superior.

Why are we so adamant?

Is it possible that we all have an inordinately high opinion of our own opinion?

I was reading a passage that started my mind swirling this morning. It’s found in Psalm 84:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! (Psalm 84.11-12)

This passage presents some things as truth that are a little hard to swallow. It says that God is a source of light in the lives of those who walk in a relationship with Him. It claims that He is a protecting force that prevents the things that He chooses to deflect from us. It says that He gives favor and honor and we can deduce from the flow of the verses that it implies that He does so for those who seek to follow, honor, and obey Him. None of that is too terribly difficult to embrace.

But then the text states as fact that God does not hold back any good thing from those who are seeking to walk with Him.

Aye, there’s the rub…

How many things that we are sure would be good have we begged God for or begged Him to do and He has not given? How often have we prayed for someone’s healing and they died anyway? How many times have we prayed to no longer be tempted by a certain kind of sin and yet the weakness lingers?

How can He claim that He will not withhold any good thing from us since we are obviously trying to walk uprightly?

Could it be that what He knows is good for us and what we think is good for us are two entirely different things?

Could it be that He, the Creator of all things, supreme Judge of all humanity, giver of life, omnipotent, all-knowing God, knows something we don’t know?

Could it be that we, in our arrogance, are sure that we know better than God?

Are we really asked to trust His character instead of our own understanding?

I think that’s what the last line of that psalm expressly states: “blessed is the one who trusts in you!”

I can’t help but think that, if we would embrace the fact that God knows better than we do, we might even begin to see that others know things we don’t. We might even begin to see that the perspectives of others around us, though very different than our own, are not patently wrong simply because they don’t align with ours.

He promised that He won’t withhold anything that is good for you. That means that He will withhold things that are not good for you. I believe that one of the most under-recognized gifts of God is the grace of withholding—holding back what we desperately want because it simply is not the best for us to give it.

Do you recognize what a gift that is? It’s like the wisdom of a tremendously wealthy father who won’t hand the keys to a brand new Lamborghini to a kid that just received his driver’s license—not because he doesn’t want him to have something awesome, but because that awesome thing might cost him his life.

You see, our Father promised to never withhold any good thing from us is we’re walking after Him. That means we either trust His character or we don’t.

My advice? Trust Him. He will not fail.

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