When God Says, "No!"

We’ve been talking about prayer.
When we come to God recognizing our needs, He gives. See Are You Needy? and How Great Is Your God?
When He gives, He desires our praise and thanksgiving.

But what happens when God says “No”?

Often we hear of people who experience a tragedy.
They beg God to save their loved one, heal their ailment, or do this act—but He doesn’t.
When He doesn’t, because of course He can, they turn from God and live their life the way they want.
How should we respond?

Let’s see how David responded.
He wanted to build a temple for God. (I Chronicles 17)
Isn’t that a good thing?
God said, “No, not you.”
Some things, some good things, are not for you to do.

My ob/gyn doctor told us, “Many people tell me, 'Think what you could do for the cause of pro-life!' 
But he would respond, “It’s not my fight.” 
What did he do? 
He saved lives—woman and babies on the operation table—taking cases no one else would attempt.
He did more for the cause of pro-life there than he ever could fighting with legislature. That wasn't his fight.

All good things are not for you to do, to have, to be.
God tells us “no” to good things to give us what is best.

Often when God answers, He doesn’t tell us why.
But He told David. (I Chronicles 22:8).

David prepared the workers and the supplies for the temple and exhorted Solomon about how it should be done (I Chronicles 22:7-19).
He wanted to make sure God’s Name was glorified.
Yet, he was not there to see the finished magnificent building.

Nor was Moses when he wanted to go into the Promised Land with the people.
He had led the Israelites for over 40 long complaining years, yet God would not allow him to enter.
For a man, that would be like doing all the work and watching someone else get the glory.

Of course, his cause was sin. Moses stroke the rock when God told him to speak to the rock, when the people needed water.
From our perspective we would say, “but it was only a little thing.”
But not to God.
God’s “no’s” are hard to take.
Even for godly men who walk with God.

There are not many prayers recorded in the Bible from women.
But those that are recorded are heart-wrenching pleas for God to bless.
Know what they are requesting?

Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
Samson’s mother.
Hannah, Samuel’s mother.
Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mom.

All felt that pain of a barren womb.
It seemed like God told them “no.”
But they keep asking—begging.

Sarah’s prayers aren’t recorded, but she tries everything she knows possible to give an heir to Abraham. 
Even suggesting her servant Hagar.
When God is silent, it is hard to wait.

It is then when we try to help God.
Our help always brings heartache.
As Sarah’s help brought problems for the rest of time.
(God doesn’t need our help. He wants our trust.)
In that waiting, Sarah learned God’s timing was not hers.

In waiting, Samson’s mother learned how to cope with disdain from family—that came in handy when her family didn’t accept Samson marrying the enemy, a Philistine. 
Later his own people turned him over to the Philistines rather than defend him.
Wonder how that made his mom feel?
God prepared her, not to withstand the pain, but to take it to the One Who could.
Not easy, but she knew where God was.

In waiting for her son, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, learned reliance on God, which she needed when she left her five-year-old son at the temple with Eli, the priest, even though Eli’s own sons were not disciplined or obeying God.

In waiting, Elizabeth learned God is to be praised with or without a child.

These women were never told why they had to wait.
Nor knew if God would ever give them a son (except Sarah).
They had to trust God.

But in their trust, they were able to share with their child what others could not—that deep faith in God that only comes when pain makes the roots grow deep.

Isaac, Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist—all men greatly used by God to do His work—Came from moms who had suffered greatly.

These women knew the pain of barrenness.
They learned to wait and trust in God alone.
God told them “no”—for a long time.
But then blessed them with a son who would make a difference.

What if God says “no” forever?
Remember Anna in the temple at the time of Christ’s birth?
Her husband died early (after being married only seven years).
She never remarried.
She never had children.
She spent her life in the temple.
God said “no”.
She didn’t know. She never found out.

Did she become bitter, never wanting to speak to God again, because He didn’t give her what she most wanted?
She spent her life praising God anyway.
That’s a godly woman!

She found what most people miss when they pray and don’t get their answer from God.
She found God’s answer was enough to make her cling to God—not His answer.

By clinging to God, she recognized the Messiah when He came.
And gave thanks. (Luke 2:36-38).

Sometimes, like David, that “no” is for us to prepare for others.
David took that answer and started getting everything, even the workers, ready for Solomon to build a glorious temple for God’s Name.

Sometimes that “no” is for us to wait with God for when He wants to give.
Like for John the Baptist's or Samuel's or Samson's birth.

Sometimes that “no” is for us to see God better, not be bitter, like Anna.

When God answers “no,” He does what is best, trust Him. 

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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