Don't promise what God doesn't. Telling singles that if they desire to be married, then God has someone for them doesn't match up with Scripture. God does not promise that we will all get married and "live happily ever after." He doesn't promise to give us what we want just because we follow Him. In fact, Scripture testifies to the opposite-if we follow Him, we are often called to suffer. The road this side of the new heaven and new earth isn't paved gold.

 

Like you, I have a lifelong list of "heart desires" that I never received. As a child, with all my heart I wanted a pet monkey. Mom wouldn't even entertain the idea. As an adolescent, I begged God for a clear complexion. Instead I got sick to my stomach taking tetracycline. As a teen, I wished to not have to ride the school bus with the elementary kids; by graduation, I was still riding the big yellow bus to school. As a collegian, I longed to meet "Mr. Right." Obviously, I'm still single. As a teacher, I longed for changed lives in wayward students, only to see them sink deeper in depravity.

 

We all know people who deeply desired to have their cancer taken away or a loved-one healed-certainly God-given desires-but their desires were not met. Did God fail? No, I think the better answer is that we have misunderstood the relationship between our desires and God's fulfillment.

 

God doesn't give us everything we deeply desire. The truth is, He hears the cries of our hearts, and He does answer. But as God, He holds the right to answer His way. The more significant truth is that He goes beyond our desires.

 

In his gospel, the apostle John tells the story of a man with an expressed desire that God chose to bypass. The fifth chapter opens at the Pool of Bethesda, a first-century nursing home for Jerusalem's down-and-outs. Admittedly, it may have been a home, but not much nursing took place around this pool. Medical treatment was only received by the first patient to get in the water when it periodically stirred. One very frustrated resident had been an invalid for thirty-eight years and had never won the race to the water. His real handicap, he said, was that he had no one to help him in the pool. If a roving reporter from the Jerusalem Herald had interviewed him, he would have issued a plea for someone to help him: "Just get me in the water."

 

His desire was close to coming true when Jesus visited the Bethesda Nursing Home. Jesus asked the question, "Do you want to get well?" Ignoring the obvious, "Yes!" the poolside patient uttered his deepest desire, "I just need someone to get me in the water."

 

Jesus didn't grant his desire. He did better. Instead of helping him in the water at the magical moment, Jesus recognized the real need and answered in His way, satisfying the deepest longing of the man's heart. He healed his body and offered healing for his soul. Jesus went beyond what the man thought to ask.

 

Jesus is not a bottle-bound genie summoned to grant every desire. He is, rather, an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present Keeper of divine promises. And His list of promises is more than impressive. It's overwhelming.