None of us likes to hear the word “no,” yet as we progress in our spiritual lives, it can often seem as if God doesn’t hear us or is denying us our every desire. But the older I get and the more life I experience, the more I realize that there are often reasons behind God’s every answer that we may or may not expect, see, or understand.
If God said “no” to His own Son in the Garden of Gethsemane, there will certainly be times He says “no” to us too.
When this happens, it’s easy to look at the “no” as punishment or lack of power. But what if God’s “no” was gracious protection?
I will never pretend to understand how or why God does things, for He is the only All-Knowing, All-Powerful One, but these are a few reasons I’ve seen in my own life why God’s answer might be “no.”
1. It’s not time yet.
We live in a culture that wants what we want when we want it. But if you read Scripture, there are constant examples of God using “waiting” as a tool to teach them something about His faithfulness. A “no” isn’t always permanent, but we must trust His timing.
2. God has lessons he wants you to learn first.
When I had my first miscarriage, I remember how much I resented God’s waiting until I could have the hope of a child again. Although it wasn’t the reason why the hardship happened, I didn’t realize how many lessons I needed to learn before I would be ready to welcome a child with a heart of humility, contentment, and gratitude. That time of waiting was a grace from Him.
3. It’s not what’s best.
Sometimes the things we think we want really aren’t what’s best for our lives. Sometimes God’s “no” is gracious protection of our hearts and lives.
4. God’s teaching you to trust Him.
It’s hard to learn to trust God if you never go through anything challenging. Times of waiting present incredible opportunities to trust God’s hand, even if you don’t understand what He’s doing or why He’s making you wait.
5. God has something better in store.
I’ll never forget the day I was rejected from a young leaders program in high school. I was devastated. But in a very small way, that was God’s way of teaching me at an early age that His “no” can often make way for something better or more eternal in our lives. That rejection set me on a trajectory of hard work and new opportunities that led to becoming a Governor’s Scholar and eventually earning a free ride to college.
6. Your heart needs to be sanctified.
Regardless of the reasons for why God allows specific hardships, one opportunity that any time of waiting presents is that our heart can be sanctified. There are sinful parts of our hearts that need to be trimmed and shaped by the Holy Spirit. The real question is, will you let Him?
7. God’s teaching you persistence and patience.
Scripture shows honor to those who continue to implore the Lord for the desires of their heart, especially when it is something good and wholesome. It can strengthen your faith and patience to keep asking, waiting, and seeking His will above all.