Do you know, we prayed a specific prayer. And it didn’t happen.
God said No.
It’s not the first time God has answered my prayers with a no.
I’ve heard before that God doesn’t say no. That the answer from God is always yes or not yet. But sometimes the not yets run out. Sometimes death claims a life. Sometimes sickness gets worse, not better. Sometimes you don’t get into a Ph.D. program. Sometimes that monthly reminder that I’m not pregnant shows up even when I’ve prayed it won’t.
So instead of wondering if God says no, I’ve started asking why he does.
From God’s word, we know that he knows what is best for us and that he gives us only good gifts. And we have this:
Or what man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent? If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking him!
(Matthew 7:9-11, AMP)
Here’s the thing–sometimes the loving Father knows that when you ask for the serpent what you really need is a fish. And when you ask for a stone, what you really need is bread.
God knows better than I do what is right for me and for my life. It’s hard to surrender that. It’s hard to admit that I’m not the best person to determine what I need–because it seems like I should be. But God, who is outside of time, who declared the end from the beginning, who knows all things: he knows. And he knows when it is best to say no.
I don’t understand. I don’t know if I ever will. But when God says no? I need to trust him. Because he knows what I don’t know. And his ways are not my ways–they are better ways. And because, if I’m honest, I know that it will be better in the end to have what God wants for me than to get exactly what I think I want.
Then Jesus went with them [the disciples] to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death; remain here and watch with me.’ And going a little farther, he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.‘” (Matthew 26:36-39)
That cup? It didn’t pass from Jesus. And we praise God it didn’t.
So we trust. And we keep praying. And we include in our prayers, “not my will but yours, Father.” Because we trust. And because he knows better.
And we say thank you. Because even though it seemed better to us that things should go a particular way, we know, from God’s no, that the plan we had in mind was not the right one. And we say thanks that God would protect us from ourselves and from our own desires and instead give us what is best and prepare us for what we need. And we keep on praying.