When God Says ”No”

I have a friend who is going through the last months of a decades-long marriage that has dissolved. Her husband has left the family for another one, and she has prayed fervently over the last several months that God would change her husband’s heart. His heart has not changed.

She told me last week that she feels that God isn’t listening to her. I kindly responded that perhaps it is she who isn’t listening to God. I don’t believe there is ever a time when God doesn’t hear our prayers, though it certainly can feel that way when we don’t get the answer we are desperate to receive.

When disappointment, illness, tragedy, or hardship comes, do we ever lose our enthusiasm for God? Do we ever feel rejected by him when we don’t get the answers we want?

Proverbs 3 brings us into the heart of the matter. We are not to lean on our own understanding when things happen, but rather trust in the Lord with ALL our heart:

Proverbs 3 (New International Version)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Sometimes, God will say “No” to our prayers. 

But remember this: sometimes God’s “No” is not a rejection,  but a redirection.
Sometimes God’s “No” is not a punishment, but a preparation. 
There are times when God’s “No” will bring greater glory to his kingdom.
And God’s “No” can start us on an adventure with him.

One thing is sure … God is more interested in our character than our comfort, and that is often reflected in his response to our prayers.

God even said “No” to Paul when he asked for his “thorn to be removed,” and then gave him special grace to carry on. And pretty much everything Christians know about grace comes from the letters of Paul.

So can we find comfort in God’s wisdom when he says “No”? Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But we can try to live into God’s grace, knowing that he always works for our good, and always listens to us when we reach out to him. Always.

So in all your discouragement and disappointment, submit to God, and he will make your path straight…straight back into his arms.

Heart Tree by Kathy Schumacher