You have probably heard the fable of “Goldilocks and the 3 Bears”. A little girl gets into the house of three talking bears (it’s a children’s story, after all), but she turns down chairs, bowls of porridge, and beds that aren’t to her liking, until she finds one of each that suits her.
This could be a story about being careful about our choices, about breaking and entering, or about just being picky. But, let’s face it, I like my own “Goldilocks zone”. I believe that the temperature control in my car could be replace with a toggle switch (maximum heat or maximum cool; why wait for the right temperature?). I don’t just change the volume on the car stereo from one song to the next, I’ll change it during a song. I really like things my way (although, as the Rolling Stones pointed out, I don’t always get what I want).
In the book of Proverbs, a guy named Agur wrote about something like this:
Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:7-9 NASB
See what he’s saying: he is actually asking God to not give him too little or too much. He knows that having more than we need can be as dangerous to our well-being as not having enough.
But, what do we do, usually? I can’t speak for you, but I often want more. Sometimes, it’s a little more money (living in a house creates a lot of expenses); other times, it’s more free time (my family knows that my standard Father’s Day gift request is a nap). I have – at times – struggled to be content with what I have. Asking God for more – just for myself – is an easy trap to fall into.
The spoiled child (not mine, of course) implies that his or her parents don’t show enough love if they don’t cave in at every request. The so-called “helicopter parent” believes that showing love is all about providing and protecting, whether or not the child needs it. However, Agur wisely points out that the loving thing for God to do is to give us only what we need.
Later in history, James provides a more specific scenario where God chooses to not give people what they ask for:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James 4:3 NASB
In this situation, it may be tempting to think that God doesn’t care, or that maybe He needs our help (so that we can get what we want). When we say this, though, isn’t the root cause that we don’t trust God’s wisdom, or that we don’t really believe in His love for us? We aren’t willing to leave His providence up to Him.
So, the next time we ask for something, let us remember not only that God loves us enough to give us what we need (based on His ultimate viewpoint, not ours), but that He also loves us enough to not give us what we don’t need.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 NASB
Conversely, if He is giving you more than you need, maybe He has a purpose for your surplus, too. Sometimes, we are called to give sacrificially, but when we have excess (beyond reasonable, wise savings and investments), it may be that we’re being put in a position to share with others.
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB
I can’t tell you which situation you’re in, but I encourage you to listen to God’s leading, and consider that our times of need are opportunities to ask Him for faith and help to trust Him, while our times of excess are just as much of an opportunity to ask for God’s leading.
Don’t be afraid to ask God for help. If you are in need – whether that be a need for daily bread, or for an opportunity to share with others – talk with God about it. Just leave the answer to Him, knowing that He loves you enough, both to give and to withhold for His purpose and for your good.
Be content, today. (And, if you master that skill, let me know your secret – I could use the help!)