Appreciating the Good Gifts We Recieve
By Charlaine Martin
Read: Matthew 7:9-11
Focus Verse: And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:3 NLT
“NO! Don’t get that for your wife!” In stern form, his usually laidback colleague, Yung*, wide-eyed, immediately turned parental. My Boaz, thinking about getting me a gift while on a recent business trip in Asia, perused the airport gift shop. He spied coffee on display and thought I’d enjoy this caffeinated wake-me-up brew with a squirrel on the package. Grinning from ear to ear, he triumphantly exclaimed, “Perfect! She’ll love it if I bring this home for her.” Yung had strolled over to see if my husband was ready to check out but was mortified by the horrible blunder his American business partner was about to make.
“Oh, you don’t understand. My wife will love it!” Yung stood eye to eye with him, feeling a dire need to rescue me from my husband’s naïve desire to give me this java, all because it had a squirrel on the package.
“No, you don’t understand. I’ll tell you later.” Yung scanned the display, plucked a different package from the shelf, and then deposited it into my Boaz’s hands, “Give her this one.” He briskly ushered him to the checkout.
Once on the plane, they buckled in. “Ok, what’s the deal? Why wouldn’t you let me get that particular coffee for my wife?” queried my baffled husband.
His savvy Asian travel partner fastened his seat belt, “I didn’t want to insult the shop owner by telling you in there. That one wouldn’t be a good choice for her. You see, a civet—the “squirrel” on the label—first eats the coffee berries. After they poop out the beans, they are washed, dried, and packaged. Who knows if this coffee carries bacteria that could make her sick, especially since health regulations here differ from the U.S. She might be upset if she found out.” My Boaz was now well-informed about Kopi Luwak, that expensive Asian delicacy my Boaz almost bought for me. It could have bothered me greatly.
“Oh! Thank you.” my Boaz, now wide-eyed, was grateful for his colleague’s interception, thus preventing a potential disaster at home.
When he relayed the story to me, I appreciated his friend steering him away from “Squirrel Poop” coffee, as we’ve affectionately named it. Instead, I’ve savored the better gift with a smooth, chocolatey taste! How did his friend know I love chocolate?
Just as my husband was confused and possibly frustrated with his colleague stopping him from buying “Squirrel Poop” coffee at first, we are often confused and frustrated when God answers our prayers differently. Why didn’t God heal my friend? Why didn’t God give me the job I wanted? Sometimes, what we ask for is meant to make us happy rather than what we really need. If we got what we asked for, we might be sorely disappointed or devastated.
In Matthew 7:9-11, Jesus is preaching what we know as His famous Sermon on the Mount. His disciple and the crowd gathered around them to learn about prayer. He explained that we must ask, seek, and knock to get what we ask. He goes on to illustrate God’s good gifts with contrasts like bread, a stone, a fish, and a scorpion to bring across His point of the lesson. Though we are evil—sinners—we give good things to our children in response to their requests. Since that is true, God, who is perfect, gives us better gifts when we ask.
Regardless of what we pray for, God doesn’t give us something terrible when He answers us. God knows what is best even when we don’t realize what we want could be a colossal mistake to receive. Understanding that God has a greater perspective on the outcome of getting what we’ve asked is essential. So often, we don’t recognize that God’s response may not seem reasonable at the time, but His plans are always perfect. We can trust his loving care because our heavenly Father loves us so much.
Appreciating the Better Gifts
Just as my husband naively wanted to give me coffee that could have made me ill, and his wise colleague pointed him toward something better, God will give you what’s best in answer to your prayers. Think of it this way: God could give us what we wanted rather than what we needed, much like Israel got a king exactly what they asked for, and the outcome was less than stellar! (1 Samuel 8:6-9, 11-18) Instead, He chooses the better answer because that’s what you need. We may not see the value of what God gives us until much later; however, you can trust His loving care to select the perfect gift for you.
Consider your past prayer requests when you got a different answer than what you requested or a petition for someone else that God responded to differently. How did His answer differ? Can you see how much better His response was? Next, record your prayers for a month, and then as God answers them, see if His answers match your prayers. Next, praise Him, for His ways are better than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
Used with permission from Charlaine Martin.