“Three different times I begged God to make me well again.
Each time he said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need.
My power shows up best in weak people.”
II Corinthians 12:8-9
Have you ever considered the amazing "no" of God? While I much prefer His "yes;" think about His "no." When we say, "no" to others—even those nearest and dearest to us—it can be from selfishness, irritation or fatigue. But when God says "no" it is always, every single time, without fail, because of love. His "no" comes from seeing the end from the beginning. His absolute wisdom and love correctly orders every single event for every single individual, all at the same time to produce the highest and best for each and every one of us. That’s mind boggling!
Of course that does not mean that only good things happen to me. But it does mean that God's decisions about me are always based on my ultimate good. So God's “no,” as much as His “yes” is His way of keeping my life on track in such a way that I finish my race, not falling short so much as a micron (that's very tiny). And that's amazing!
But knowing this doesn't make me automatically appreciate God’s “no” at the time. Often I'm not pleased because my request is selfish or immature. I am a real American, after all—well-trained in wanting what I want when I want it. But other times, His "no" feels unbearable, because my circumstance is tragic, painful or dangerous. When praying for a loved one or seeking relief from an overwhelming situation, getting the answer I want seems the only right thing. Then God's "no" or even His "wait" seems almost unjust. That is when looking up from my pain and relying on the faithful love of our good Father is imperative. Though it isn't always easy, I have to remember that only He is big enough to see the whole picture. That helps me trust that His commitment to me is unbreakable... even when my situation is painful.
God knows what I so often forget—my life here is momentary, eternity is forever. So my life span, littered with obstacles both small and great, is getting me ready for the rigors of living on the new Earth with Him. I'm just not big enough or wise enough to understand all the ins and outs God knows are necessary for that conditioning program. He is less interested in my momentary happiness or comfort and more with my eternal joy. Even my justifiable pain and grief are tools He lovingly wields to pry my hands off my life so He can have more of me. He is sublimely disinclined to remember my rights as an American, or my first-world expectations. He is working steadily to remold me into an actual, real disciple of Jesus—one who loves and trusts His boundaries, rather than my own.
Jesus, our elder brother and greatest example, heard God's "no," when He asked that the cup of death presented to Him be taken away. Jesus trusted His life to the "no" of the Father and made a way for me to be with Him forever. His example shows me that God's "no" can be trusted, absolutely. Yet I am painfully aware of how small and weak my trust can be. I hope to eventually hear God’s “no” with immediate gratitude, trusting that He knows what is best. By the grace of God, I will get there!
"The father at once cried out, 'I do have faith, but not enough.
Help me have more!'” Mark 9:24 (Good News Translation)