Winning the lottery is like throwing Miracle-Gro on your character defects
–Quote from a TV show on the lottery.

Sometimes we’re blessed to not be blessed.

What I mean by “not to be blessed” is not blessed in the way we think we should be. Or the way we want to be. God is so wise that sometimes he withholds blessings from us because he knows we couldn’t handle them. That we’d forget him. That we’d fall too much in love with this world. That we’d ruin ourselves. That it would throw Miracle-Gro on our character defects.

Psalm 84:11 says God doesn’t withhold blessing from his children:

No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

God withholds NO good thing from those he loves. So if God does withhold something from us, we can know that it must not be a good thing for us. We might think it would be a good thing, but we need to trust God’s wisdom. He knows what we’re made of and what would tempt or ruin us. He knows that winning American Idol wouldn’t be good for most of us. Lots of money wouldn’t be a good thing for most of us. Too much honor and adulation wouldn’t do most of us good either. Agur, author of part of Proverbs says:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:8–9)

I’ve got to admit it’s hard to pray this prayer. I can easily pray, “Don’t give me poverty,” but I don’t add the second part, “or riches.” Because I think riches would be good. I want more than just needful food. I want to feast on steak and cake and cookies. Agur says it’s just as dangerous to be rich as it is to be poor. He says if we’re poor we can be tempted to steal, which profanes God’s name. But when we’re rich we can be tempted to deny God and say, “Who is the Lord?” If have everything, you can think you don’t need God.

Sometimes God uses sickness or poverty to “hem us in”—to keep us back from harmful things we’d pursue if we were healthy enough or rich enough.

If God isn’t pouring out on you the “good” you think you should have—whether it be wealth, a wife, a husband, a child, a job, a break, health, a home, whatever—it might be that if you had it, it might not be for your good. God is out for your best, which is to know him and be conformed to his likeness. So seek to be content to have Christ alone. If we have him we have the infinite riches of God. We have all the good God can give us. If God hasn’t given us something we’ve asked for, we can seek him for it, but then let us trust his wise providence. He’ll give it to us if it’s really good for us. He’ll withhold it if it’s not.

God will prune us. He’ll cut off branches that don’t bear fruit. But he won’t throw Miracle-Gro on the weeds in our hearts.

And that’s something to praise him for.

Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.