What do you do when God implants a desire to do something or have something and that desire is not fulfilled? For example, God gives you the desire to serve him as a pastor or missionary or engineer or military officer, and the desire isn’t fulfilled? Or, God gives you the desire to be married or to have children, and the desire isn’t fulfilled? How do you process these disappointments, especially considering Psalm 145:19, which states: “He will fulfill the desires of those who fear him?”
Certainly, we can’t take this verse to mean that God will fulfill absolutely all our desires. Why? A letter written by the eighteenth-century English minister, Andrew Fuller, helped me to see why.
First, some of your desires are sinful. The Bible calls these lusts (James 4:2). Jonah desired Nineveh’s ruin (Jonah 4). Saul desired to keep some of the booty for himself so that he himself would receive praise (1 Sam 15:1-12). These were sinful desires that were not fulfilled.
Second, some of your desires are not good for you. David desired the life of his child that he had with Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:15-16). Jesus desired God to remove the cup from him (Luke 22:42). Neither desire was ultimately good.
Third, sometimes your good desires are simply not fulfilled. In this, God has a higher goal for your desires. David desired to build a house for God, but it wasn’t fulfilled in his lifetime (2 Sam 7:1-17). Paul desired the salvation of all his kindred, but it wasn’t fulfilled (Rom 9:3; 10:1). In each case, God had a higher goal in the desires.
So what then does it mean that “he will fulfill the desires of those who fear him” (Psalm 145:19)?
What this means is that God will fulfill the sum of your desires. While God may fulfill an individual desire (e.g., career or family), ultimately, He will fulfill the desire to know God and be known by Him for eternity. And knowing God and being known by Him for eternity is the ultimate desire of all true Christians.
Whatever desires you may have, God may fulfill those individual desires. But He will always and ultimately fulfill the desire to know Him more and be with Him for eternity. And so, you can confidently say with the Psalmist, even if your individual desires are not fulfilled: “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds” (Psalm 145:17).