Can God Punish Us By Giving Us Exactly What We Want?

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God sometimes has an interesting way of dealing with his people.  In order to help us turn back to him, he gives us exactly what we ask or desire.

Sometimes God says ‘yes’ and not ‘no’ as a way to call us to return to him.

While reading Romans, I was reminded of this unusual fact.

“… they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done” (Rom. 1:28. Underlining mine).  When God gave them over, they “became filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity”.

Someone once said (yes, that is a biblical way to reference a quotation – see Heb. 2:6) that we would all be worse off if God said yes to all our prayers.

I think that’s true.

The truth is that our minds are not always righteous.  Our hearts are not always pure.  Our motives are not always on track.  The things we desire are not always the things of God.

This is the great tragedy of the health and wealth gospel.  It says that God is here to say yes to our every request.  But it’s quite possible that if God says yes, it is to hand us over to the depravity of our minds.  He hands us over so that we will taste and experience the emptiness of a life pursuing something other than Himself.

As a result, sometimes God gives us exactly what we ask for, not to bless us, but to help us see the flaws of our hope in something other than him.

What if you’ve been praying for a higher paying job?

You’ve got that job now, but with the job comes a lot more commitments.  A lot more obligations.  A lot less time.  A lot less energy.  You exhaust yourself working and occasionally have something left over for God’s work and for your family.

Did God answer that prayer to bless you or to bring you to repentance?

What if you’ve been praying for a new car?

You rush out to get the car and stretch your loan as far as possible.  Now you struggle to make the payments.  You ask friends and family to spot you what is needed to cover the shortfall.

Did God answer your prayer, or did you move forward as an act of the flesh?

Of course, none of these things are wrong.  But we must be wary of what we ask and of why we ask.

As a society, we’re getting richer and richer.  We’re spending more and more.  We building bigger barns and mortgaging higher amounts.

Is that God opening the flood gates of heaven?  Is He standing there applauding all our gains, all our accomplishments, and all our growth?  Or is he waiting longingly like a mother hen?  Waiting for us to return.  Waiting for us to find our meaning, our hope, our security, and our comfort in His care.

Have we prostituted ourselves?  Have we chased after the foreign god of mammon?  Have we forsaken our first love?  Have we lived with a  passion other than His Kingdom and His Righteousness?

Is all that we have a sign that we are the blessed of all nations, or is it a sign that God has given us over to our depraved mind and we’re spiraling downward? Drifting further away from our creator.

God, give us only what you deem necessary.  Help us to see the blessing in the answer ‘no’.  Teach us to desire you above all things.  


  1. Walter says

    I believe everything God does is for the good of His children (Rom 8:28).

    I enjoyed this article. I would only have one nit. I would have used discipline rather than punish. God’s discipline is never punitive. All of our punishment was poured out on Jesus on the cross. When God disciplines us, he does it as a loving Father (Heb 12). The word “punish” implies (at least to me) that something punitive was left undone at the cross.

    Thanks for this article.

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