My dog Bentley is really not that well-behaved. He knows what he is and is not supposed to do, but he constantly pushes the limits and does what he wants, even though he knows better.
When he really wants something, though, he sits in submission like a perfect statue. Sometimes that gets him what he wants. Other times it doesn’t. When he is being obedient and doesn’t get the desired results, he tilts his head, wags his tail, and looks up at me with utter charm, as if to say, “But I’m being good! Can’t you see that I’m being good?” He can’t understand why I would withhold something good from him when he’s being good.
I hate getting that puppy-dog face. Sometimes I have to ignore it, but it hurts me to. Bentley has a point! He is being good, but he can’t always get what he wants.
I’m the same way with God sometimes as Bentley is with me. I feel like I’m doing everything right. I’m obeying. I’m “being good.” But there are many times when, even though I feel like I am in total alignment with him, I ask for things and he does not give them to me.
Just like my puppy, I want to plead, “But I’m being good!” I tend to expect that if I behave, I will get what I want.
That just isn’t the way it always happens.
Sometimes God does reward our obedience instantaneously. But other times he chooses not to.
We don’t always know why God withholds things from us. After all, it says right there in the Bible that “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless”! (Not that any of us is claiming to be entirely blameless.)
But there are a few reasons why he may choose not to bless us with something we really want:
When I don’t reward my dog with whatever it is he wants, I always have a reason. So does God. It can hurt him to withhold things from us, too, because he hurts when we hurt. Lamentations 3:33 says that “he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.” But he is a good Father and a good disciplinarian. He knows what he’s doing.
Obey him, and then trust him to give you his best. He will – immeasurably more than anything you could ever ask for or imagine, in fact.