Recently I read a question posed by Shannon McNear on her blog (here) asking "Where does one draw the line between Believing God for Great Things, and setting oneself up for disappointment?”
Well, having asked this question myself many times, I have some thoughts about that and thought I'd share them.
I don’t think there is a line. I think the problem isn't how much to believe but what. It's the failure to realize that His idea of great things and ours are not the same. We know He loves us. We know He wants to do great things for us. We know that He is far more concerned with our happiness and blessing even than we are... but we don’t think about that.
Instead, we think, "Ah, a great thing would be to see God prosper me in the area of being published. Or causing my books to become best-sellers. Or (fill in the blank). I want this thing so badly! I've asked him for it because I’m certain that if I had it, I would be happy, satisfied and fulfilled. I’m certain because I have thought about it at length. I have dreamed about how if I had it, all my insecurities and doubts and lack of confidence would be gone. Everything would be wonderful. I have looked at others’ lives and seen how confident and secure and happy they are with this particular blessing... I know that having this thing would feel good, not least because I would have seen God come through with a wonderful blessing in accordance with his promises to do great things for us."
So we ask for what we are so certain would be the best thing, the great thing for us. And maybe He doesn’t give us that. And instead of realizing at once that we are wrong, and that being published or having best selling books or whatever would not be a great thing at all for us at this time – would, in fact, be a total disaster for our spiritual life and our happiness -- we think He doesn’t care. We think He doesn’t have great things for us after all. We think He can’t be trusted. When His very refusal to give us right now what we want and strain for, is actually part of the great things He has promised to do for us.
Yes, He does want to bless us with prosperity, success, wealth, health, etc. Maybe He even wants to bless us with the things we think we want. But if we get them when we lack the capacity to receive them, they will be as disastrous for us as giving a ten year old the keys to a Porsche. Or giving a fourteen year old free access to his million dollar inheritance. They will not bless us, they will consume us.
We don’t think that will happen because in our daydreams we don’t see it that way. We think we have capacity. But the truth is, we don’t know squat. About ourselves, about what is good for us and about what things will be like should we receive this thing we so desire.
God, on the other hand, knows all of that with perfect accuracy. More than that, He, as our loving Father, is waiting to pour out blessings upon us. He will withhold no good thing to them who walk uprightly (Ps 84:11) But first we must be prepared (by God, not us) to receive them without being destroyed by them.
So yes, believe God for great things, but don't necessarily try to pin Him down on some specific item that may not be a great thing for you right now. If you ask for publication, recognition and/or success and do not receive it, count that a greater thing than if you did. For His ultimate goal is to conform us to the image of His son. And that happens most during the hard times, the times of suffering, not in the times of blessing and everything going right.
Ask, but focus on who He is, on the fact that His glory is in His goodness and that, if you are a believer in Christ He is FOR you. (Ro 8:31) If He sees fit not to give you what you want right now, know that is absolutely the best thing for you. Because if the desired thing was good for you, you can rest assured you'd already have it.