Say “No, thank you.”

Until he recently moved away, there was a kind gentleman at our church who always had a large jar of lollipops for the kids. When our oldest daughter was younger, he would ask us when handing them out if she could have one. We usually declined. As she got older, and would play with the children she would be asked in our absence. One particular time we were near, but she was asked with a group of kids. I happened to hear and asked her to say “No, thank you.”

Now, you can imagine how hard this was for her to do. She wanted the lollipop, her friends all around her had one, and her daddy told her no. She was sad and disappointed, and I think she started to tear up. I did it because we try to be careful of what she eats – not that she never has candy or lollipops – and this wasn’t something we thought was best.

It was hard for me to ask her to do that. I knew how hard it was and there were other times where I did just let it go because of how difficult it was for her.

Sometimes, God takes things from us that we already considered ours. Maybe, like my daughter, we see something offered to us that we want and don’t realize our Daddy will say no. But sometimes He does. Sometimes He takes what we would consider necessities of life – family, support, church. Maybe He never gave us something we consider important and we crave it still. Everyone else has it. Normal people have this, why didn’t God let me? Or why didn’t God give it to me?

Often I think it is because we assume it was already ours to begin with when in fact it wasn’t. We hadn’t checked with our Father and we already assumed we could/should have it. We forget that everything we have comes from him. The loving family growing up, the job opportunity we are sure we will get, the house we are going to buy, the children we are going to bring up. They are all His, and come from Him. We know in a mental sense that it is true, but in a practical sense we see something in our hands (or just about in our hands) and we assume God had given it to us. Or we look at others who have it and wonder why we were never given it (and think we should have been). My daughter did not know I was going to step in and in essence take her candy away. Other times she has had to watch the children all with candy and she didn’t have any. God chooses what to give us, and we need to be careful that we don’t assume it is ours before it is. It only brings a sadness and maybe even a coveting of that “gift.”

This is not all that different from the times that God does plainly give us things and then takes them away – though we might accept the prior principle and have a hard time with this one. Our assumption during these times is often that since He did give it to us, it is ours for as long as that thing normally lasts. However, God sets different time limits on things. We might not get to keep the nice house as long as we planned on. God may take a child early. Sometimes Arielle does get a lollipop. Rarely, does she finish it. There is usually something we need to do and we tell her she needs to be done. She is usually content, not because she is mature, but probably partly because she doesn’t have a predetermined concept yet that you are supposed to keep them in your mouth till they are gone. We all often have predetermined concepts on how long we should have what we have. God is the Giver and Taker of all things. He doesn’t just decide when and what to give, but for how long we will have it.

Yet, God is good. His mercy endures forever. His kindness is great towards us. His love is unsearchable. His eyes are over us. He cares for His flock. He is infinitely wise. He is mighty to save. This is our God. I didn’t take Arielle’s candy away to be mean, and neither does God act to cause us sadness or pain. He acts for our good. He works things out to change us, mold us, grow us. He is our Creator who knows far more about what we need than we do. He as our Father cares far more for our good than we can imagine.

When God asks us to say, “No, thank you,” we need to remember that it is God’s gift to give. It was never ours. So we trust Him, knowing He has something far better in store for us. For whatever He does give is what is best suited to make us more like Christ. Whatever we do receive from His hand is perfectly fitted and timed for our good and His glory.