When God says “No”

If you have spent any time around toddlers as they’re learning to talk, you know they learn rather quickly how to say no. Our sinful nature has ingrained in us the desire to put ourselves first and fight for what we want the moment we realize we want it. Toddlers learn the word no gives them a way to feel in control, or as in control as a 3-year-old can possibly feel.

Hearing “no” is frustrating. Little ones don’t like hearing no despite how often they repeat the word back to you. Teenagers certainly don’t appreciate it when their parents tell them no. The older you get, though, the more you realize there’s a reason for that little word. Why, then, is it difficult no matter your age to hear God tell you no?

In the ordinary moments

We all experience moments when we know God has told us no. Normally, these situations result from praying about life events. What college to go to. Getting that prestigious job. Starting a family. Moving. You get the picture.

While watching the door close on a prayer we desperately wanted a yes answer to can feel like a punch in the gut, we know God has His reasons. We remember He sees the whole picture and desires what is best for us, what brings Him the greatest glory. In those moments, we look to Him through our tears and say, “I trust You.”

In the midst of what feels like the end of the world, you hold onto trust, because it’s all you have to get you through that moment. Trust in God’s faithfulness.

But what about the ordinary, day-to-day moments when God says no? The times when you ask God something that isn’t bringing you to your knees in fear, but something you still desire.

When money is tight and you would love to not have to cut corners or clip coupons. When your boss doesn’t seem to like you and you begin looking for other jobs. Or even when you’re sitting at the airport because the airline keeps delaying your flight and you just want to get home.

Would we allow frustrations to grow in those moments? How often do we ask God why He can’t simply give us what we want here?

Saying God doesn’t care about those details of our lives is not the answer. If He has numbered the hairs on your head and knows when a sparrow falls, He certainly cares about your desires and what you’re thinking about at any given moment. What, then, are the reasons God says no in the ordinary moments?

His no protects us

Remember that trust we hold onto in the dark moments? Why do we let go of it so easily in the ordinary ones? Do we not truly believe God knows what He’s doing? Because the truth is, He protects and guides us moment by moment, not just when we’re looking to Him.

There are times when God says no because He is protecting you from something you don’t see. That flight that was delayed? Maybe that was God’s way of protecting you from a situation you didn’t know was dangerous. That job that turned you down for the position you wanted? Maybe God knew harm would come to you in that city where you would have had to move.

We look at normal, ordinary situations and think it wouldn’t be a big deal for God to just allow everything to fall into place for us. But we have no idea what goes on in the spiritual realm. We don’t understand how God protects our souls and our bodies from harm when all we’re looking at is what we want when we want it.

The next time you miss your flight, or that next month you’re not pregnant, or even the time you’re stuck in traffic, remember first before the frustration at God that He does all things for your good and His glory. He could be protecting you from a situation you don’t even know exists.

His no is preparation, not a lack of care

As new creations, God desires for us to pursue holiness. He desires for us to become more and more like the bride of Christ with each day. Because of these desires, He will shape us and mold us into His creation. He will allow us to experience situations that will strengthen us and provide us with perseverance. If He simply gave us everything we asked for, we would remain weak and unprepared for Christ’s return.

It’s normal to ask God for help in our day-to-day. We ask for safe travels, health and a good day at work. When His answer is no to what feels like a simple request, we wonder why He doesn’t care about those things. We wonder why He would allow that accident or that sickness to hit us the day before our big presentation.

Rest assured, God’s no does not mean a lack of care on His part. It means He desires to strengthen you. He wants you to lean on Him and handle situations as His Son would handle them. He wants you to look more and more like Him with each frustrating situation you face. Then, when the true hardships hit and you’re on your knees in agony over what has occurred, you’ll still lean on Him and respond as Jesus would respond. With complete trust in your Father.

Multiple reasons, one response

If we could understand God and the reasons for all His answers, then He wouldn’t exist as the infinite, all-powerful, One true God. There are multiple reasons He says no to us, but we must respond with trust. Maybe His answer was determined before we asked. Maybe He has something greater planned than what we asked. Or maybe He hasn’t said anything at all, and we assume His silence means no.

Whatever the reason for the no answer to your prayers, remember His faithfulness. Remember He has never done anything to harm you. When we trust Him with the little no’s, then the more difficult no’s will not rock us in the same way. We will look more and more like the bride of Christ, and we will learn to accept with joy every adventure God asks us to go on with Him.

Let’s Talk About It: When has God told you no in the midst of your ordinary routine? 

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