When we pray about things, there are three ways God can answer. First (and the way we always hope for) is "Yes, immediately." Next, there is "Yes, but you will have to wait until my time." And then there is the answer we really don't want at all---"No. Not now. Not ever."
I've come to realize that how we respond to that third answer---"No"---is the real measure of our trust in God. When he says "no" to something we yearn for with every fiber of our being, how do we respond to him? Do we accept his will, trust that he knows best, and praise him anyhow? Or do we whine and complain and shake our fist at him? Are we gracious with his "no?" Or are we angry and rebellious and, like Israel, insistent on "getting our king" no matter what.
For almost two decades, I was the latter kind of woman---angry, bitter, depressed, and totally unwilling to accept "no" for an answer. I wanted something good---Biblical even---so I couldn't understand why the answer was "no." For seventeen long years, I refused to accept God's answer, and I begged and pleaded for a reversal of the "no" to my request. In addition to times of begging, there were times of railing against God in extreme anger. I also made bargains with God, promising that if he gave me what I wanted, I would give him all the praise and even trust him more.
Alas, the answer remained "no."
My request was for another child. I already had two (both of whom I conceived easily), and I desperately longed for two or three more. My dream had always been to have four or five children---preferably five. Having just two children was nowhere in my plan. And yet, without question, that was God's plan for me. My womb was closed, and although it took me seventeen years to come to the place of accepting that, I do now know God's peace in the midst of what we would probably call "unanswered prayer." (Actually, the prayer was answered---the answer was "no.")
How could the answer to my request be “no?” I mean, the Bible says that children are a blessing. Over and over, throughout Scripture, we see the pain of infertility being lifted and the woman being miraculously given a child---Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth. Surely what I was asking for was a good thing? Surely it was God’s will for me? Surely I wasn’t asking for something I shouldn’t be? So, how come the answer was “no?”
I don’t know the answer to that question. But what I do know with all my heart is that I can trust God to do what is best for me. Even if he says “no” to my request, He is still good, and I can still trust Him. It took me a long time---nearly two decades---to learn that.
I’ve come to realize that How we respond to God's "no" is the real measure of our trust in him. We can claim to trust God, but if we think we know better than he does and we rail against him when he doesn't give us what we want, we're not really trusting at all.
Grace & Truth
Faith on Fire
Grace & Truth
Faith on Fire