Yup. We like this verse, especially in February, the month of foil-wrapped hearts, fifty-dollar rose bouquets and over-stuffed monkeys. I expect you think you know where this could be going. After all, the desires of a girl’s heart can only be one thing, eh? Can I surprise you? Here are one thousand or so words on finding your heart’s desire.
I have read enough popular, self-help style, girl books to realize this ideology is too prevalent. It’s sickening, really, this idea that if we pour ourselves into God, loving Him and doing what He wants, then we will get what we want. Mr. Right will waltz in and be our happily-ever-after. We interpret this verse this way, because we want a god who will be a genie.
But He’s not. He’s an all-knowing, all-loving God.
Think about fiction. Once upon a time, the genie showed up and granted the protagonist’s wish. Did the hero’s character improve? No, in fact, most times even the improvement of the hero’s circumstances was only temporary.
Think about those two characteristics of our ETERNAL God.
He is all-knowing. This means that He knows exactly what is going to happen with every single person, and He knows the best choice for each person to make. He also knows the choice each one will make, for better or for worse. He knows that we humans zero in on that one consuming desire whether marriage, success, or otherwise and let it become an idol that motivates every choice we make. He knew when He gave us the freedom to choose that we would err and run away from the very One that would make us happy. But still, He wisely gave us that choice.
He is all-loving. He wants the absolute best for each person. He wants us to choose His way and be so full of Him that peace and joy bubble out of us. In His love, He does want us to have the good life, and He sent His only Son to make it possible for us to have a happily-ever-after eternity with Him in heaven.
The problem comes not with God withholding what we want, but with us confusing what we want.
May I repeat myself? “We humans zero in on that one consuming desire…and let it become an idol that motivates every choice we make.” We could never drive down the 401 Highway while staring at our air freshener and survive. In the same way, our narrow focus has disastrous results for the life God intended us to live.
I dare you, step back and see the whole picture. Let’s start with the whole chapter of Psalm 37.
The over-arching theme David presents tells us to do what is right before God and He will preserve and bless us. The wicked seem to prosper but their season is short. “I have seen the wicked…spreading himself like a bay tree. Yet he passed away, and lo, he was not.” (Ps. 37:35-36a)
David’s Psalm is filled with pairs of our responsibilities and God’s promises. Trust and do good and God will provide for your needs. Give God control of your life in complete trust, and He will bring about every good thing that seems impossible now, while making you righteous in the process. Wait patiently without worrying for God to be God, and God will give you the earth. The meek will delight in peace. And there are more.
But let’s look at our favourite promise in verse three:
Delighting in God means spending a lifetime finding out Who He is and all that is good about Him. It means choosing to be content with Him alone, and in the process, we find Him more than enough. It is allowing our love for Him to spill over into joy and praise and unselfish service. Then, He gives us the desires of our hearts. That means He gives us the ability to desire what we should want, which is what He wants. He doesn’t necessarily give us what we thought we wanted, although sometimes He chooses to do so. The desires and dreams we are born with are not wrong in themselves, but our desires and dreams are often only shadows of God’s best.
In the book of Ezekiel, God calls for the repentance of His people and promises: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” (Ezekiel 36:6) The New Testament calls Christ’s followers to a new era, a new walk and a new heart with new desires.
As Matthew Henry so aptly said, “We must make God our heart’s delight and then we shall have our heart’s desire….He [God] has not promised to gratify all the appetites of the body and the humours of the fancy, but to grant all the desires of the heart, all the cravings of the renewed sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and live to God, to please him and to be pleased in him.”[i]
Let’s go back to that genie. What does the genie always say? “I will grant you one wish.” (The odd time, he grants two.) God says, “Trust me to give you more than you could ever ask or imagine.” God continues to bless us, as He sits fit, whether with singleness, marriage, success, or anonymity—eternally. Paul describes God in his third chapter to the Ephesians as, “Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (verse 20b)
Smell your dozen red roses. Sign those over-priced Hallmark cards. Climb the corporate ladder. Write your best-seller. Or don’t. Regardless of where you find yourself, God is more than able to give you His best, if you allow Him to change your heart.
“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
[i]Henry, M. (n.d.). Psalms 37 Commentary – Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/psalms/37.html