Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When God Says No

God does say “no” sometimes, and it can feel terrible. How to deal with that answer is a tough question. The big picture is that God has promised us good, and our judgement of what that is, isn't always as clear as God's is. The Apostle Paul had to deal with the answer no from the God he loved, and Whom loved him. We are never told what exactly he was asking about but he describes it as a thorn in his side. It was something so important to Paul that he went to the Lord three times about it even though he knew why it was allowed to continue in his life. We can read about it in 2 Cor 12:7-10, and how Paul ended up responding to the answer “no”.

Paul records that God answered with “My grace suffices thee; for [my] power is perfected in weakness.” And Paul tells us that now, after having asked three times that he learned what God was teaching him and put it into practice. “Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may dwell upon me.

These are big words, from a man who was tried by the fires or persecution in the world. By studying the writings of Paul we learn that God was working on him throughout his life. He goes from being unsaved to writing of joy while he was in Roman prisons, when he was shipwrecked, even when facing death.

We can see a similar progression in Peter's faith. Peter who we lovingly pick on for being so prone to messing up actually slept so soundly in jail that the Angel of the Lord had to poke him in the side to wake him up! What a change from the younger Peter who questioned everything.

God had allowed things in these men's lives so that they would come to trust and rely on Him. That's how Paul was able to react the way he did in 2 Cor 12:7-10. It's important to know that this is a process, even the Apostle Paul asked three times before he learned to rest.

How do you deal with the answer no? Focus on the Truth that our victory, in all things, is Christ alone. Trust that He has all things in hand. Paul speaks of being hindered from visiting the Saints at Thessalonica by Satan, but that his joy was still that nothing could hinder them from being together at the moment of the Lord's coming. Paul talks of this as our blessed hope. God can grow your faith. Even to the point that the answer “no” makes you feel safe and assured He's protecting you.


Robb said...

I know that when God says no that it will work out for the best, ya know? Rom 8:28.

Easier said than practiced -- I know.

But we should remember that God's way is the best way. When He says "no," then that means "no" is the best possible answer, for He knows everything.

Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Kevl said...

Someone close to me asked the question of how to deal with the answer 'No' from God just a few days ago. It's one of those questions that makes you look for the biggest picture possible.

It's especially tough to answer when God has said "not yet" to some pretty important things and you're having a hard time to deal with it yourself.

In the end though, Truth doesn't change because I'm not happy.

"Easier said than practiced" - isn't that true of most things with the Lord. :)