Does God give us what we want?

Verses such as Psalm 37:4 say that God fulfils our desires. But what does that mean? Why is it that so much of the time it seems like we don’t have everything that we want?

Key Points

  • Psalm 37:4 suggests that God does fulfil our desires: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – so why does that seem so alien to our experience?
  • There are two wrong ways of looking at desire:
    1. Our desires are all sinful and wrong (asceticism). This is the belief that godliness is denying ourselves of everything, people such as Simeon Stylites. However, this is wrong because of e.g. 1 Timothy 4:3-5 – God made good things in the world to be received with thanks. Our desires are not all wrong.
    2. Our desires are everything (hedonism). This is the belief that we should seek for all our desires to be fulfilled all the time – think about the song I Want it All by Queen. BUT – this is wrong because we are not to do what we want (Galatians 5:17), plus when we get our desires we often them empty (see the book of Ecclesiastes, such as Eccl. 2:10-11).
  • Does this mean we are stuck with one of these two options, or somewhere in between?
  • There is a third way! “God + Desire = fulfilment”.
  • The first part of Psalm 37:4 is “Take delight in the Lord”. When we desire God first and foremost, then we can really start enjoying everything else.
    • We enjoy good things as a gift from God (James 1:17)
    • We ask our heavenly Father for the things we want (James 4:1-3)
    • We mustn’t be resentful for when God doesn’t give us things! God is not a cosmic killjoy.
    • God often wants us to have a deeper fulfilment than we could desire for ourselves.
  • Ultimately, our desires are fulfilled in Jesus – as God forgives us for our sin (including sinful desires), and makes us new by giving us new desires.

Explore Further

The series on Ecclesiastes is on the YouTube playlist.

Your questions answered

This is part of the Your questions answered feature. See that page for more videos in the series.

If you have a question about Christianity or the Bible, please send them in or comment below.

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