Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. — Luke 12:32
For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. — Psalm 84:11
These are two of the verses that have been on my mind today. But the context may surprise you.
You see, I have a very dear friend, F, who like me is going through the desert on a horse with no name. Our circumstances are different in a lot of ways, but some of our struggles have been the same, and we vent to each other and encourage each other as much as we can.
Another dear friend, C, is terminally ill, has been for some time, and is facing worsening disability, and in the most literal sense, God alone knows how long she has left.
C is one of the best examples I can think of to illustrate the point I made about the cleft of the rock. She spends much of her time studying Scripture and learning truths about God that she wouldn’t have been able to glean if she weren’t in the same condition, and she insists that as hard as it is, she’s content. F and I are finding the same thing, though our circumstances aren’t as dire and sometimes we really need God’s help to trust His timing. (“Pacience is a poynt [virtue], þaʒ [though] hit displese oft,” as my buddy the Pearl poet said.) And C and I remind each other from time to time about the passages in The Hiding Place where Betsie ten Boom takes “in everything give thanks” to the extreme of thanking God for the fleas and lice infesting their overcrowded barracks in Ravensbrück–and then finds out that the vermin are the only thing keeping the Nazi guards from discovering the secret Bible study they start.
I don’t think either of us forgets that Betsie eventually died in Ravensbrück… or that her remains were incorrupt.
No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. It is His good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
That doesn’t mean that God won’t grant us financial blessings and temporal luxuries. But it’s not a guarantee that He will, either; health and wealth may not rate among the good things that will help our walk remain upright. And it definitely doesn’t mean He’ll deliver on His promises the second we want them fulfilled. If we expect–nay, demand–that kind of instant gratification, we become like the foolish woman in the saying, “If she had a ham under each arm, she’d cry ’cause she had no bread.” And we forget one of the surprising pieces of wisdom we can find on the oldies station:
Don’t you play the queen of diamonds, boy, she’ll beat you if she’s able.
You know the queen of hearts is your best bet.
It seems to me some good things have been laid upon your table,
But you only want the ones that you can’t get.
–The Eagles, “Desperado”
Sometimes the desert and the nameless horse are part of the road we have to travel to get to the point where either we’re capable of receiving the good eternal things He’s saving up to shower on us or others are capable of receiving the good things He wants us to give as freely as we receive. And sometimes we forget that we won’t necessarily recognize the Romans 8:28 of it all, the now and the not yet, the point where “it felt good to get out of the rain” becomes true and we do remember our names at last, on this side of eternity.
That doesn’t mean the good things aren’t coming. “For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”–all of it, not the half offered by earthly kings. And “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). It just means that in the meantime… maybe we need to practice being thankful for the fleas.