No is not a word we like to hear. As human beings we struggle with the word "No" the majority of our lives. As we grow into adulthood we get better at dealing with the answer, but it is still a struggle none-the-less. A large part of effectively navigating God's answers to our requests has to do with perspective and learning to ask the right questions. For most people the majority of this perspective comes from experience. Learning to ask questions comes through trial and error.
A Sign of Our Maturity
We all grow in our faith at different paces. Some Believers are sprinters while others are more like walkers. So the point at which we learn to process God's answers will vary from one person to the next. This should not serve as an area of embarassment, it is simply something we should recognize as a reality. How we handle God answering "No" is a sign of our maturity as Believers.
Many will respond to God's "No" with frustration or hurt and rightly so. We believe our God is a good and gracious God. When we hear the answer "No" this stands to potentially contradict what we have come to believe. We believe our request is reasonable and we lack the perspective to understand why God might say "No" to these requests. We cannot see all He has planned and therefore we cannot see why this "No" is important. It is here at this intersection where battles for our faith in God are won and lost.
Learning to Look Beyond the "No"
At first when I receive a "No" from God, I might be a little frustrated, hurt, or cranky. The longer I reflect on God's answer, the more I remember how good God is. And as much as I want him to say "Yes", I realize that when God says "No", it is usually because He has something better in mind. The hard part with this answer is having the faith to believe in God's something better when you have no idea what it might be.
As much as I would like to give you 5 simple steps to accepting God's "No" for your prayers I won't. In most cases, this is not something which is quickly learned nor should it be over-simplified. Learning to process and accept God's "No" is for many a turning point in their faith. Many Belivers won't make it past this point because it requires too much from them. The hurt and disappointment is enough to push them away from God when at this point they truly need to lean into Him.
The Hard Truth
I refuse to candy-coat this part of the process. It is not that I do not believe that Believers can get past this, it is quite frankly one of the hardest lessons to learn while following Jesus. For many this is a point in their faith which either pushes them away from God or draws them closer. Many will assume God did not answer their prayers. While what frequently happens is that God did not answer their prayers in the way they expected Him to. Sadly, they fall victim to their own expectations.
What I Will Tell You is This...
When you face this type of answer, when everything in you wants to walk away from God. When you question whether you could really believe in a God who would say "No" to such a request.
- Lean into God.
- Ask God questions (He can handle your questions.)
- Draw close to Him.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 NIV