Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.Psalm 37:4
“What do you understand by this? What do you think I am missing?” My wife asked.
“Why don’t you tell me what you understand by it?”
“It means being happy in the Lord, worshipping Him, enjoying my worship time?” She continued, “but how does it work when I do those things and my prayers don’t get answered? I didn’t win the lottery, I didn’t get pregnant last few months, I didn’t get the job I wanted.”
I think many people go through similar experiences and in understanding the verse this way, it understandibly leads to disappointment. The more disappointment mounts they tend to believe the Bible isn’t divinely inspired but mythical writing, or they start to believe God is a miserly God.
“I think there are two things that I suspect if you chew on, will open up that verse to it’s full potential.” I replied thoughtfully.
“Really? What?” Her eyes widened.
What could I possibly tell her that she didn’t know after years of serving in a large church?
I want to share my understanding of how to appropriate this verse based on my experiences of decades of great suffering and then uncommon redemption when God’s purpose for me was revealed later.
“Our heart changes when we delight ourselves in God’s heart. And the fullness of God’s heart is revealed in His son Christ Jesus. Your worship will only be as deep as to the depths to which you know Christ.”Kenneth Koh, Letters to a Modern-Day JOB.
Under the Old Covenant of Law, which the psalmist was under when he wrote that Psalm, God blesses based on your works. Only if you have the right behavior, and do the right sacrifices, including the sacrifice of praise, will God bless you.
However, the fullness of God’s blessing was never in all this. This way of thinking was a shadow of things to come. A shadow is transitory, unsubstantial. If we try to grab a shadow, it will only end up in frustration.
The most precious thing God was waiting to reveal to the world at the fullness of time was His ultimate expression of grace through the finished works of Christ Jesus on the cross. Many people worship God and say “God is good”, but they don’t have good understanding of just how good. They are content to believe in their own subjective understanding of “good’ and not see “good” the way God sees it.
The ultimate goodness of God is found in the free gift of righteousness through the powerfully expensive finished works of Christ. The blessings God wants to release to you was paid for by Christs’ blood on the cross. Christ gave up everything in heaven so you could have heaven in everything.
All the promises of God are YES in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 1:20)
This means that all the blessings of the righteous are available to you because of Christ.
When God looks at you to determine if you deserve blessing, God sees Christ and not the sinful you. When God decides if you deserve blessing and favor based on righteous behavior, God looks at Christ’s behavior and Christ’s works instead of yours. That’s why God’s thoughts towards us are good and He is proud of us like He is proud of Christ.
So when we worship, what are we thinking?
If we sing, “God is good,” this is a great start, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Blessings can come forth, but those blessings are peripherals, not the main course.
If instead we go into worship, in awe of the great works Christ has done, lifting up Christ and His finished works on the cross. Then all the fullness of the blessings of the righteous becomes freely available to us.
Supply from heaven flows more greatly, when we fully recognize that Christ is the door (John 10:10) that brings heaven into earth. Without opening the door which is Christ, we can only glimpse some blessings leaking out from the windows, but never fully possess them.
“Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them,” (Psalm 32:2) King David declared.
The same King David, the one wrote the verse of this blogpost, looked to this generation, the generation that the fullness of the Gospel has been made available to, envied us.
We have something King David never did, the fullness of grace in Christ Jesus.
Put another way, the verse says to “delight ourselves with the Lord”? How do we maximize delighting God’s heart? It is simply when people love, lift and want to know His son. Nothing delights God’s heart more than when we lift up His most precious possession. Ask any proud father what he will do to people who are good to his son and it’s not hard to understand God.
Hence, many people worship but don’t have as deep a revelation of Christ Jesus’s finished works and thus lose out on the fullness of what God wants to give. God can still bless because of God’s mercy, but God’s full mercies are unlocked through Christ.
Also, when a greater revelation of Christ is revealed to us, even what we pray for and expect changes.
We wouldn’t be asking for “small and selfish” things, but “big and God-centered” things.
We wouldn’t be asking for good grades or hitting the lottery, we will be asking for divine wisdom to create businesses and legacies. We wouldn’t be asking for a pay raise, but something that totally changes the game. We wouldn’t be asking for a whole new set of friends, we would be asking for us to have the power to forgive and to help. We wouldn’t be asking for God to destroy our enemies, but instead to pray for them that they might be blessed if they discovered Christ for themselves.
Don’t be surprised if health and wealth follows you when you follow Christ, also don’t be surprised when those lower blessings finally come, that you won’t be a slave to it. This is the heritage of being a New Creation in Christ.
Our heart changes when we delight ourselves in God’s heart. And the fullness of God’s heart is revealed in His son Christ Jesus. Your worship will only be as deep as to the depths to which you know Christ.
It is because God is so much more good than we can imagine that’s why when we pray, God can bypass the prayer from our minds to directly answer the prayer that comes deep from our hearts.Kenneth Koh, Letters to a Modern-Day JOB.
The verse says God will “give you the desires of your heart” not “give you the desires of your flesh”.
Often, people think they know what is good for them, but really do not.
Let me give an example from my college days. I am not using my experience with eczema and disease because it is easier for people to relate to my college experience.
There was a heavy pressure to graduate with honors in the Ivy-League college I was in. Almost all Singaporean scholars in history would graduate with a Cum Laude, and so some might view you as a failure if you are the Singaporean scholar that could not.
I had a strong faith in Jesus then, but I struggled in my first year there. Despite trying hard, I averaged a B, which is gave me a GPA of 3.1. It requires a GPA of 3.5 in order to graduate with a Cum Laude.
I honestly don’t think I could have done any better, I was at my limits of hard works and capacity; yet I couldn’t get a single A that year.
I was very disappointed because I knew the odds of getting a Cum laude was basically impossible. In order to get that GPA up to 3.5, I would have to average a GPA of 3.75 for the next two years. I couldn’t even get more than a 3.1, now was I supposed to get 3.75?
Other aspects of my life was falling apart, including my mum dying of cancer, and an unfaithful girlfriend.
I worshipped God every day. I did my Bible studies in the morning before I started my day. As I walked to and fro from the lecture theatres I would be listening to worship music and meditating under my breath. I would claim God’s promises straight from the Bible.
Most people would view that first year as God not giving me what I wanted. We all want good grades, promotions, a girlfriend … but most of the time, that is not the desire of your heart, it’s the desire of your carnal flesh, which is shortsighted and temporary in nature.
Cutting the story short.
When I finally graduated 2 years later, I actually got my Cum Laude.
But it was the manner of which it happened that makes all the difference.
After an even harder next two years, somehow, I managed to obtain a 3.51.
I got my Cum Laude by 0.01?!?!
What sort of razer thin margin is this? I didn’t even know if I would get this Cum Laude even after doing the final paper of my final exam.
What I gained from this experience transcended far more that I expected.
I discovered first hand the providence of God during difficult times. I found out now that even when things looks so difficult, God can do amazing things with perfect timing. My soul, upon seeing my Cum Laude, wasn’t thinking about good grades, it saw a peek of the restorative works of God. This excited my heart, as though living waters were gushing out. The epiphany felt unexplainable, far better than just getting good grades. It showed that no matter how difficult the circumstance, God’s purpose for me, His plans for me are better than what I can think for myself.
My “flesh” was bruised, but this was because the flesh cannot see the plans God has for us.
None of this life-changing revelation about God would be possible if God didn’t allow the great disappointments in the 1st year. Many people want to feel safe, but God’s power and glory is always framed by risk and danger. You cannot see the stars in their full glory unless the darkness of night provides the perfect contrast to see it’s radiance. Many people can get good grades, fewer people get to see God in action, sustaining us from the razor’s edge.
When I saw the 3.51, the grade was perfect. In the midst of my struggles, God wanted to show me that He was still there. God wanted to show me hints that He can do the impossible.
It showed me the precision of God and His faithfulness, teaching me a lesson on patience that would become so integral for my bigger trails of life that would occur a decade later.
My flesh wanted to be celebrated with good grades. God wanted to teach me about Himself, and teach me powerful lessons that would ensure my survival years later.
God can do “exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine.” (Eph 3:20)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,Ephesians 3:20
God truly answered the prayer of my heart, not my flesh.
Hence, in order to give even better gifts to us, God has to sometimes disappoint our flesh. God has to confound our minds because our minds are too shortsighted and too limited.
It is because God is so much more good than we can imagine that’s why when we pray, God can bypass the prayer from our minds to directly answer the prayer that comes deep from our hearts.
Because our minds are too simple, too carnal at times. But the heart is where the Holy Spirit resides! Our Holy Spirit is actually interceding and praying for us. Our words sometimes cannot encapsulate what we should be praying for, but God recognizes the earnest attempt of his children reaching out to Him, and so accelerates the perfect purposes for us that is bound to us by the Holy Spirits in our hearts.
And, when God finally answers our prayers in it’s fullness, it might not be what we expected or at our timing, but it will be better than we expected.
So if you want to deepen your worship to God, to delight God’s heart, know that nothing delights God’s heart more than accepting, abiding, and having a deep relationship with His son Christ Jesus. Christ is the door that opens the divine supply of heaven to you.
But when that supply comes, it will actualize a great many things in your life. The blessings and circumstances that come might not be what your flesh expected, but when the dark season is over, don’t be surprised if you got far more than what you expected.
Think of food.
The best tasting food is never just extremely sweet, sour, bitter or salty. We tend to want sweet, but too sweet tastes bad and is unhealthy. The perfect combination of sweet, bitter and salty created by a masterchef is what makes the food unforgetable. The bitter sets up the sweet and vice-versa. The same goes with life experiences and God. God knows that they most excellent experience in life is not the sugary temporary highs, but the transcendant knowledge of God in redemption. You cannot experience redemption without great difficulties that stretches our human limits, and a great unlikely victory. We cannot comprehend God unless we can appreciate hints of timelessness and redemption.
In experiencing redemption, the perfect combination of bitter and sweet, we experience epiphany, surrendipity, grace – we experience God.
That, is what we can never forget.
“Oooooooh.” My wife exclaimed, eyes open. “That’s the best explanation I’ve heard that sets my heart on fire.”
“But what about your other disappointments? How can you be so faithful to God and then have the heartbreak of an unfaithful girlfriend?”
“If my girlfriend wasn’t unfaithful, I wouldn’t be married to someone much better – you. Although I was entirely heartbroken and angry with life at the time.”
Sometimes silence is so golden. A quiet wife is a quiet life. 🤣
What did you think? Drop a comment below.