Ever feel like the “No” train makes too many stops at your station? In our lifetimes, we will most likely hear the word “No” more than “Yes.” This is our reality on this side of eternity. When Jesus lived among us, the number who rejected him eclipsed the ones who received him.
Some people struggle to say no and couch it in different terms. Even thoughssss it’s not said directly, the message is plain.
“We decided to go a different direction with this position.”
“Perhaps you can re-apply for a loan in a few months.”
“You could try this product instead.”
You get the idea. However, a “No” comes to you, it’s an instant disappointment, especially when it comes from God. Depending on the size of our request, our discouragement can be momentary, or it can be something we wrestle with for years. When God says to me, “I know, you requested sunshine for your beach day, but I’ve scheduled rain,” I’m a little sad that the day I planned with the grandchildren isn’t going to go as expected.
One day, God said to me, “I’m not healing your mother’s earthly body this time. She’s run her race and now I’m taking her home.” This particular “No” cut hard. My mother knocked on eternity’s door a couple times during the latter years of her life but God said, “No, not now,” to death, each time. A few days before she died, her therapists and doctors assured her she’d be returning home fairly soon. She definitely went home, just not to the address any of us had in mind.
Yes, I am comforted by the life my mother lives now, along with all my other family and friends waiting for me in the next life. I’m teary-eyed whenever I think of the wonderful reunions she experienced with all of her family, gone from earth for many years. My soul is solid in the assurance that I will see her again and we will be together forever. Nevertheless, in the here and now, that final “No,” to the last request I prayed for my mom still stings.
Maybe you are wrestling with a very large “No.” Your spouse did not end an affair and come back to you. Your business did not survive the last economic downturn. Your child did not qualify for that scholarship and you are out of ideas for college tuition. If there is a “No” robbing you of your joy, peace and sleep, I can only encourage you with one word, trust.
Trust in God’s character and Word is our way through a season of discouragement due to a “No.” Satan feeds on pain and tries to nuzzle in close to us during downturns. He wants us to think that God is capricious, that He could grant our request but chooses to dangle us over despair instead. Don’t let the enemy mess with your mind like he did with Eve’s. “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” First, he causes Eve to question the facts of what God said.
Secondly, Satan questioned the qualities of God’s character. When Eve repeated God’s warning about death, if they ate the fruit of one particular tree (not all of them like Satan exaggerated), he simply slithered in a different direction. “You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Satan implied that God’s nature included random selfishness. He will attempt the same thing with you. Satan isn’t particularly clever or original, but he is persistent.
Our minds and emotions are much better able to cope with a rejection when it comes in love from someone we trust. When I tell my daughter, “I wish I could hang with you today, but I’ve got some jobs that must be done,” she is disappointed. She does not, however, think crazy thoughts like, “Why didn’t she want to be with me? Does she not love me as much? She probably could have rearranged her schedule; she just didn’t want to.” There is a trust in me and experiential knowledge that I love her unconditionally, always want to be with her and always want the best for her.
Why do we sometimes feel like God isn’t fair and is withholding things from us He could easily give? When our thoughts run down that road, we are attaching our experiences with people to God’s character. Maybe you didn’t receive unconditional love from parents or other key figures in your life, so it’s foreign to you. Perhaps you’ve been grossly mishandled by a number of people and this colors your view of God and your ability to trust Him.
The best way to overcome these kinds of thoughts when you are questioning a “No” from God is to hold fast to Scriptures that describe his nature. You will grow a calming confidence inside you that your Father will never ever hold back someone or something that is the best for you. It’s simply not in His character to be unkind or aloof. I leave you with a starter list of some of my favorite verses on this matter.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. “Psalm 84:11
“The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Psalm 145:9
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” Matthew 7:11