Years ago, Garth Brooks released a song called “Unanswered Prayers.” The title was a misnomer as the song wasn’t actually about unanswered prayers – it was about prayers that were answered differently than the petitioner wanted. It struck a chord with many as a powerful reminder that when things don’t go as we initially desire, there may be something better – something we couldn’t have anticipated – that comes along instead. Believers especially should have this confidence as they know that God is working all things for their good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). God is not arbitrary in how He dispenses good gifts – He has a purpose that He is working to accomplish.
Yet, it is often difficult to remember this when our hope goes unfulfilled. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we still behave in such a manner as if we would know what would be best for our lives. When God doesn’t give us something that we want, we are quick to think that something must be wrong with Him – or His plan, rather than trusting that the One who holds our future in His hands has a better understanding of what we need in this moment in than our temporal perspective allows. We are quick to acknowledge what is lacking in our lives in terms of not having what we desire, but slow to recognize our own insufficiency when it comes to determining whether what we desire is actually what is best.
A.W. Tozer recognized this when he wrote: “Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.” We are sentient creatures and we are able to more easily recognize the good that we have experience than we are to appreciate the blessings of which we may never be aware. However our lack of understanding for how God is providing shouldn’t stop us from praising the fact that He is.
It’s important to express gratitude for the good things that God has given us – to acknowledge the many gifts that He has placed in our lives. We would do well to also state our appreciation for the unrealized blessings – and to praise our Father for working in ways that we are unaware.