Joe Fair PhD
4 min readSep 25, 2020


A Gift I didn’t know I wanted

Have you ever been desperate to know something but felt continually thwarted in your pursuit to attain it? There have been a few periods In my life where I felt kept at bay by the Lord. During one of these I had been earnestly seeking direction and counsel from Him and was trying to be ready to act on whatever direction He gave me. I had so many questions in my mind that I wanted answered. So many things that I wanted clarified. To me, these were important, potentially life changing matters that would impact me, my family, and my career. In addition, some of my concerns revolved around my ability and readiness to serve Him, even at the expense of other worthy goals.

At one point during this time I went on a drive at night, eventually succeeding in my goal to get a very unhappy child to fall asleep. I was outside of a small town on a rural ranch road with nothing but fields around me and starry skies above.

I was listening to a talk by Robert D. Hales from October 2004 and I smiled to myself as I reflected on Enos wrestling with God in prayer, and the invitation to ask, seek, and knock. I smiled because I realized that as the author of the parable of the unjust steward, the unjust judge, and the author of Mathew 7:7, God just might give me the answers I had been longing for if I really pleaded for them. Are there not dozens of references to asking and receiving? What if I really asked? Like a mustard seed of faith moving a mountain.

As I sat there in the dark marveling at the brilliance of stars and God’s creations, I prayed in a whisper some of the aforementioned principles about asking. But then realized that of all the questions I had, I wasn’t sure which one I wanted answered most. If I could only focus on one issue what would it be?

In the end I could not decide on any one thing that seemed more important than the rest. There was not one thing that I could sufficiently emblazon with my rising fire of faith in order to really expect an answer.

Instead of asking, I thanked God for the things that I did have and what was going well. To my surprise the sacred response that I received was that I should reach out to a close family friend who has been a father figure to me for many years.

The next morning I called and expressed my gratitude for the blessing he had been in my life. During the conversation he shared some important and special information about my father and himself that I never knew, and that served to strengthen my love and respect for both of these men. In the years since this conversation and as my dear friend’s memory has dimmed somewhat, I’m convinced that if I had not called at that time in the attitude that I had, I would not know some key information about my father and about the man who has quietly served our family for decades.

Did this solve any of my problems? Were any of my pressing questions answered? No. But what I gained instead was of immense value to me. Something that I would have traded the answers to any of those other questions to have. I felt like Jacob in Genesis 32–33, for in my distress God gave me rejoicing.

“I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant.” Genesis 32:10

And as the subsequent months and years would later reveal, the things that bothered me so much then were not the right questions anyway. I was focused on trying to solve the wrong issues. They were certainly relevant, logical, important questions, but not what was essential. I have found that what is essential is the hardest to execute because it forces us to look beyond the now and yet be completely in the moment. The miracle is that God knows what we need and yet is amazingly patient in our fumblings to follow Him.

Jesus teaches in Luke 11:11–13

11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

God may not give us what we want, but he does give us what will benefit us the most. He knows how to give the best gifts. To quote Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles,

“You can have what you want, or you can have something better.”

I know God gives the best gifts, especially the Gift of his Divine Son; For whom there is no adequate praise.

Let us all press on, trusting in Him.



Joe Fair PhD

Weaving among matters of faith, mental health, and prose.