You Can’t Always Get What You Want

November 8, 2021

By Gina Padilla

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.

The Rolling Stones

The subtle poetry of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards contains a lot of wisdom. We always want what we want, but we don’t always want what we need. When we are struggling with figuring this out, it’s nice to know that our Heavenly Father knows what we need. 

Just as parents guide children between what they want and what they need, our Heavenly Father guides us. A child may want to eat chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but I guarantee most parents agree that is not what the child needs — although I’ve been tempted to eat chocolate cake for dinner on occasion. 

As we navigate our lives, we have to make constant choices — some easy, some difficult. In some of these choices, there may be a stark difference in what we want and what we need.  This is why it is so important to seek God’s guidance in everything we do.

“Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Proverbs 3:6 NLT

We should ask ourselves if we are seeking God’s will in all we do or just the things we think are important. Do we worry that we are “bugging” God if we approach Him about seemingly unimportant things? Or are we purposely not seeking God because we want something and don’t want God to tell us no? Is there a girl or guy that we really want, but may not be in our best interest? When it comes to matters of our heart, it is more important than ever that we consult God. 

“The heart is more deceitful than all else 

         And is desperately sick;

         Who can understand it?

‘I, the LORD, search the heart,

         I test the mind,

         Even to give to each man according to his ways,

         According to the results of his deeds.’”

Jeremiah 17:9-10 NASB

When we want to make decisions based on feelings, we should be especially diligent in seeking God’s guidance because God sees all. He sees all hearts, all motives, and can see the bigger picture, while we can only see what’s in front of us. Sometimes we can’t see what we need because our feelings blind us. 

This is so contrary to the “follow your heart” mentality of the world, but when we understand who is in charge of the world (1 John 5:19) it shouldn’t surprise us. We always think we know what is best for us when God knows best. What we want at the moment may not be what we need, especially when what we need may be difficult or painful to endure. 

I think of Mary Magdalene and I can’t imagine how she must have felt watching her teacher and friend be tortured and put to death. I can’t fathom what she was thinking, but I am sure she wanted the suffering to stop. I’m sure she wanted the Romans to change their minds and not crucify Jesus. Although that’s what she wanted, what she needed was a Savior. What she needed was a sacrifice to atone for her sin and make her blameless in God’s sight. What she needed was exactly what Jesus did on the cross. 

God knew what she needed. Although I’m sure His heart broke as he felt her pain watching Jesus suffer, He knew the outcome and ultimately gave her much more than she ever expected. The same God who gave up His only Son for you also hears you and guides you. 

The question is do we trust God to give us what we need, or do we think we know better? When we trust God, we end up with blessings we never even knew to ask for. God wants to bless us and give us good things. Trust Him, seek Him and know Him. Your life will be blessed with so much more than you ever expected.


“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:11 NIV

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

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