Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. It sounds easy, at least in theory. We should be able to complete the operation, it’s pretty simple. Insert delight, turn lever, collect desired goods. No matter the desire, I suspect we’ve all been left fumbling about the prize return of the cosmic vending machine at one time or another wondering what went wrong. Did I not insert enough coins? My heart’s desire must be jammed in the works somewhere.
When you feel gypped it’s easy to carry around a chip on your shoulder. As a single Christian on the north side of thirty, I notice the nagging stream of blog posts, magazine articles and general conversation about what is wrong with the world that my demographic has become so prolific. We are a flashing beacon alerting culture-watchers that the demise of all that is good is at hand.
I understand that I am more likely to get killed by a terrorist than get married after the age of forty. Now that I think about it, it was age forty-two and mauled by a bear. At least that’s what I hear. The shady nature of these stats really has little to do with my point, which is that I’m getting the vibe that it’s officially time to panic. Panic is a useful strategy for dealing with emergencies of any sort. If there’s an emergency do you have a plan? Maybe I should go to emergency.gov and see if they have any useful strategies.
My personal strategy is snarky comments. Not usually out loud.
Person I’ve never met before: You’re not married? How old are you?
Me, in my mind: 102. I suppose it might be time to think about settling down. How old are you?
Unsticking the Desires of Your Heart
Over the years more than one happily coupled person has quoted me Psalm 37:4 as the complete answer to my husbandless condition. And, so it is.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
We can believe this is true just because God has said it, even if we don’t understand the mechanics of delight and desire. We instinctively know that God does not plan to give us anything whatever that we want. My dream car is a Jeep Wrangler, baby blue. It has been since I was 16, but I don’t sit in expectance that one will arrive in my driveway any time soon, or ever. Yet, sometimes what we want is something He says is good, and this is where things get jammed up.
I have been told by some that when my desire is for a good thing, something which the Lord has called a blessing, it is a sure promise from God that He will give me what I want. I can never fully grasp how people come to this conclusion. Experience is an unreliable method of interpretation, yet I can’t get past much of what I see in life. I’ve seen God-fearing friends die long before they reached old age. What about them? Didn’t God promise long life as one of His blessings to those who serve Him and honor their parents? What about the blessing of children? Didn’t God promise children all around the table of faithful men? I’ve known faithful couples that want children and remain barren. It all leaves me questioning what the Lord means when He says He will give me the desires of my heart.
Delight Yourself in the Lord & His Character
At times like these I find it best to take stock of what I know about God. His character is a compass which gives me surety that my trust is pointed aright. So, what do I know?
I know that God never changes. He has been unchanging from eternity past and through all the ages. He isn’t going to change now (Malachi 3:6).
I know that He knows ALL. He sees the end from the beginning, He is not surprised by the turns my life has taken, He has ordered them (Isaiah 46:10).
I know His Word is truth ( John 17:17). His promises are true, always. It matters not at all if I know how or when the promise will be fulfilled. I may not know what fulfillment will look like, or when it will come, but I am confident I won’t feel swindled in the end. God is not a shyster.
Knowing a few things about myself doesn’t hurt anything either:
I know that my desires can change. I am a changeful person. I used to scrunch up my nose at mushrooms and sushi. Things change. I change.
I know that desires can get me into trouble. James tells us that our lusts and desires are warring within us (James 4:1-2), and Jeremiah tells us our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. Our hearts are full of ugliness when they aren’t full of delight in the Lord.
Changing Heart, Changing Desires
God’s promises don’t change, but my desires can and do. My experience thus far is that the more I delight in the Lord the more He conforms my desires to His. The sorrow of unfulfilled desires doesn’t consume the heart which delights in God, not completely, though sadness may remain. We live in a world broken by sin which we have a hard time turning away from. These sins devour our hearts. They replace delight in the Lord with self-serving desires. What is that flash of disappointment when a friend tells me their good news? That would be jealousy rearing it’s substantial head. They received something I want, it seems unfair. Jealousy is an ugly monster, and his companions are no beauties either. Discontent, Self-pity, Rebellion, they must be subterranean devils because they tunnel their way into our foundations. They make their homes and live quite comfortably unless we root them out.
Delighting in the Lord is a way to do just that. Delighting ourselves in the Lord by learning who He is, praising Him for His character, and praying for His will to be done, changes our hearts, changes our desires. It fills the caverns dug by devils with the joy of our Lord. A heart filled with Him praises Him for what He giveth and what He taketh away, and what He maketh us wait for, it is all for His glory. Blessed be His name.