When God says No
Have you ever found yourself completely disappointed with God? Have you asked Him for something only to not get what you asked for? Doesn’t the Bible say that we should ask, seek, and knock so the door could be opened to us? What about that verse that says, “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”? Or the verse that says that whatever I ask for in prayer if I believe I have received it I will get it? So why does God say no even worse, not say anything at all. Why does He leave us wondering and waiting?
Let me tell you a story. A few days ago our family had a tremendous opportunity fall into our laps. This was a crazy wild possibility. But it was one that we go pretty excited about. Yes it was only a possibility but it was so hard to dream about it being a reality. We pursued this offer, we thought, wow Lord, this is amazing! This would solve all of our problems! Yes it would be hard work, but it would be work we would love! Yes there was and initial financial burden but surely God would work that out for us. So we went forward, sure that this was God’s next step in our life. Positive that we were finally going to see good things happen for us. We were so convinced that this was it, we had now arrived, or shortly would be arriving to the land of milk and honey.
Long story short, we did all we could and then had to put it in the hands of others. It wasn’t for us to decide, it was for someone else to choose us out of 2 other options. So we prayed and prayed, we got others to pray with us, we just knew this was God’s will. Monday rolled around and we didn’t get the call. There was no email. About lunch time the email arrived… it was short, simple, to the point. “We chose to go with another proposal.” In short, we are not picking you.
Our world dropped out from under us. WHAT??? What do you mean you are not picking us? God this was your plan for us, how could they not pick us? Yes we asked you to open or close the door but surely you didn’t really mean for it to get slammed in our faces. How is this possible? Lord, it was our heart’s desire… we thought this was your plan for us.
Ever felt that way? Ever been completely blown apart because God said no? We are still pulling shrapnel out of our hearts, we were so sure. I was so sure. I had prayed my heart out, why didn’t God grant us this? I spent all day Monday, asking God why. Reviewing all we had done to see where the mistake was. I found myself in tears, heartbroken over this dream that had just died. And it wasn’t a slow death it was and execution. Not a lethal injection go to sleep death of a dream no, this was the brutal firing squad; a 1000 bullets shot in my direction shattering the dream; a nuclear bomb dropped on my heart leaving no evidence of it ever having existed except the giant gaping hole where the dream used to be.
What now? What comes next? We were so sure of this plan; we had started making plans for the future, and now? Now…
The more I questioned God, the more that I cried and fought to try to understand why this happened the more I was pushed to His word. Truth is, the last thing I wanted to do was read His word. I didn’t want to read about His unfailing love, His mercies being new every morning. I didn’t want to read about how he promised to never forsake me or leave me. I didn’t want to do any of that, I didn’t want to hear any words of wisdom, and yet in my heart I was craving it. I was desperate to understand why I felt abandoned. Why would he show us a glimpse of what we could see ourselves doing and loving only to yank it away and say “NO”?
Even though my brain resisted my heart won out and I find myself searching out God’s word, and what to do when He says “NO”. What have I found? Anything of comfort? Yes and No. I have found many examples of God saying no to people in the Bible. He told David no when it was David’s dream to build the temple. He told Zachariah and Elizabeth no to having a child, later He did say yes but it was way later. He told Hannah and Sarah, and Rachel no to having children as well. The yes did come later but for many years they carried the burden of a dream shattered.
Here is what I have found. God uses “NO” and “WAIT” a lot in the Bible. And He has good reasons for saying no. Just like I do with my children, they get a lot of nos or not nows. I want what is best for them and in order for them to get to that place of best they have to sometime endure long waits and nos. The same is true with God. He has amazing plans for me, the best He has for me will blow every good thing I can think of out of the water. So why does this no seem so hard to accept? It’s hard because my selfish hard got ahead of the plan.
God uses no and wait for a couple of different reasons, 1) I have the wrong motives or 2) to teach a lesson. James 4:3 says “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” Ouch! I never thought about my nos having a direct relationship with my motives. Do I say no to my kids because they have wrong motives? All the time! For some strange reason the idea of God doing that with me seems like a surprise. Maybe because I have believed the lie that if I believe it hard enough God will grant me my heart’s desire. And there it is… that little word that takes God from being my loving Abba to a genie handing out wishes. God doesn’t grant, he gives freely, lavishly for the pure and simple reason that he wants to pour out His riches on me. The word grant comes with the idea that a request was made first. If I can remember that God wants to lavish me with his love and riches because He loves me and for no other reason then maybe the nos to the things I ask for wouldn’t hurt so much. Today’s no brings me closer to tomorrow’s yes, the best yes He was me to have.
So if I have wrong motives then I definitely need my Father to say no. What about His teaching me a lesson? What lesson does God want me to learn? He wants me to see that it is always good to serve Him whether or not I get anything physical from it. Job is a great example of what it means to serve Him no matter what the outcome. Job lost it all, and in the end God brought him the best of what God had planned for him. Would that have happened had Job sinned and turned away from God? I don’t know but I do know that through it all Job learned just who God was. It was a hard lesson to learn but He learned it well. Do I know who God is? Do I fully trust that every yes, no, or wait is because His divine plan is grander than my own? I think somewhere deep down I acknowledge that truth, the question is do I put it into practice everyday.
I understand the yes, no, and wait answers. I use them myself all day long with my children. But sometimes I answer with a wait or no having never really heard what my child asked. I think every parent does that, we sort of tune out and give a nod or a “in a sec” response to appease the child but never really hearing their request. God always hears. He never just gives out and answer without hearing our request or without having “thought” through the question. God already knows my requests, and he already knows what His best for me is, but He loves it when I come to Him and ask.
Proverbs 15:29 says that He hears the prayers of the righteous. 1 John 5:14 says that He hears us and gives us what we ask for. Sweet! Wait, the verse says, He gives what we ask for when we ask for something that is in accordance with His WILL. Not my will. Meaning, no matter how much I may want it, if it doesn’t line up with His will then I am going to get a no. Every verse that I have been able to find that talks about God answering prayers and giving me what I want all have this little condition attached. It has to be in agreement with His best for me. If it isn’t in His best for me then I am going to get a no answer. And maybe it is in His best for me but I am not ready for it, so I get a wait. Psalms 145:19 says that He will fulfill the desires of those who fear him. Psalms 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Every reference of scripture that talks about my getting something comes with a conditional tag. If it lines up with God’s best. If I fear, have reverence for Him, if I have delighted myself in Him. When I have made God my center, my all it becomes so much easier to accept His no or wait because I am already in tune with His best plan and my desires and dreams match His!
So Lord, help me understand that your “no” isn’t because you are being mean or trying to rob me of joy. In fact it is the opposite. Your no is because my dream doesn’t fit in with the best you have in store for me. Help my heart to rest in your promises that you have plan to prosper me and give me a future. Help me be content to wait on your best.