Making Deals with God

Making Deals with God

In television and movies, people often interact with God as if he’s a pawn shop broker. No one just asks the Lord for help, as a child would ask of a loving parent. Instead, it is always portrayed as striking a bargain. The character says, “God, if you’ll do this for me, I will…”, then they name some giant, sacrificial act they will perform to pay for their side of the deal.

I have always found this disappointing, offering a misleading view of my Heavenly Father who delights in giving good gifts to His children. However, I recently noticed that the Bible itself gives an example of this very thing in 1 Samuel. Here we read about Hannah as she begs God for a child.

Then she made a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head." – 1 Samuel 1:11 (NKJV)

Here Hannah was bargaining with God, and God delivered. I wonder if perhaps God occasionally does work as a pawn broker when the bargain is for our own benefit. There can be situations when a need was lifted so sincerely that the person was drawn very near to God. Miraculously the prayer was answered, bringing much joy. But a brief time later that person begins to drift away from God - distracted by the ‘shiny object’ of their answered prayer. Perhaps God sometimes plants this desire to bargain in our heart as a way of keeping our focus on Him, even during life after answered prayer.

For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. – Psalm 100:5 (NKJV)

When I encounter an imponderable puzzle like this, I return to what I know for certain. I know that God’s thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I know that God is good. I know that He loves each one of us, and that He is worthy of our trust and praise. I believe that whether we bargain or not, God delights in giving good things to those who ask Him. The rest is just details.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! – Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)