When God Says No
Last week, we examined the life of Cornelius in Acts 10. One of the prominent characteristics of Cornelius was that he was a man who “prayed to God always” (v. 2). He was a dependent creature upon God, and we should be as well. Prayer is our link to God; how we communicate with God. We know that God answers prayers in three ways — yes, not now, and no. And the thing about the answer “no” from God is that it is never the wrong answer. It is always the right answer.
But does God not care about us when He says “no”? The fact is, God says “yes” so much of the time. He says “yes” every day, over and over again, but we have the tendency to forget that because we can be short-sighted. No wise parent is going to say “yes” every time to their children. Parents know best. God knows best — even when it came to the apostle Paul.
In II Corinthians 12:7-10, we learn of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” The scriptures don’t reveal what it was specifically, but it caused Paul misery and he dealt with it in the right way — by taking it to God in prayer. He prayed diligently and with purpose, yet God’s answer was “no.” Does it make you wonder why God would do that? Here’s a faithful servant, a hard worker in the Kingdom of God, he’s got this terrible malady, and God’s not granting Paul’s request.
God has been never obligated to grant every single request that’s made by every one of His children. From our perspective, our request may seem right and reasonable. But from God’s perspective, it may not be His will. Something that’s greater than our own personal agenda is what’s on God’s agenda (I John 5:14-15). It doesn’t mean we don’t matter to God or He doesn’t love us. But it’s His sovereign will that guides Him in answering our prayers.
Our faith can be shallow. Why would God say “no”? It’s something I need, or it’s not wrong, or it will give me relief. When God says “no,” understand that God has eternity in view. We just see today — what’s happening in front of us right now. God sees eternity.
We don’t like hearing the word “no.” God is our Father, and like any wise parent, He sometimes has to tell us “no” for our own good. God knows best (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is in control. God doesn’t just do things arbitrarily. There’s a reason for everything He does. Trust God because of who He is and what He does.