When I was little, my grandma taught me that if I prayed and asked God for something good, He would answer my prayer.
I held on fast to verses in the New Testament like Mark 11:24, John 14:14 and Matthew 21:22, where Jesus is quoted confirming it:
If I asked and believed, then I’d receive whatever I wanted. YAY!
I was filled with great hope and I started making prayer (and learning about The One I was praying to) a part of my daily life.
I prayed, and prayed, and prayed… and I fasted and prayed some more!
And many times I felt like there was no one on the other side.
And later in life, I stopped isolating verses of scripture and making an absolute doctrine out of them.
I realized that prayers don’t really go unanswered, and that God wasn’t deaf to my cries, supplications, and tears.
Sometimes no matter how much we plead, and long, and beg, and for reasons we do not understand, the answer is simply NO.
It’s hard to understand why the answer to your prayer is no, especially when you are praying for something that is good:
Someone’s healing or survival
Getting married or saving a marriage
Freedom from addictive patterns
Opening a womb or keeping a baby
A much needed job, project, or promotion
Why do these remain unfulfilled?
On top of my already desperate cries, I felt empty, disappointed, and confused!
Didn’t God know this was important for me – for my family?
God does know what I’ve been through and how much I need this!
I mean, God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” so this should be easy for Him!
I’ve wondered: “So many are miraculously healed and completely freed of their circumstances…
Why not me?
Does God not care about me?
Did God abandon, desert, and forsake me?
Am I not good enough?”
But it’s NOT about me. The truth is that God does not always rescue us from the hardships we face.
There are so many stories in the Bible in which earnest prayers were met with a resounding NO:
God said NO to David’s request for his child to survive, and the child only lived seven days. (2 Samuel 12:1-23)
God said NO to Elijah when he prayed that he might die, and God preserved his life for a purpose. (1 Kings 19:1-4)
God said NO to His Son, Jesus Christ, even though “being in agony he prayed more earnestly,” and the Atonement and Crucifixion went on as foretold. (Luke 22:41-47)
Jesus said NO to Paul with regard to “the thorn in his flesh,” and though we don’t know what it was specifically, we know it was not removed as requested. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
Jesus said NO to the Greek woman, and tested her before performing the miracle. (Mark 7:24-30)
And God Said NO Poem
One day, I found this poem by Claudia Minden Weisz, which was published on the April 1999 edition of the Jewish Magazine, and I was moved to tears:
I asked God to take away my pride,
And God said “NO”
He said it was not for him to take away
But for me to give up.
I asked God to make my disabled child whole,
And God said “NO”
He said her spirit is whole
Her body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience,
And God said “NO”
He said that patience is a byproduct of tribulation,
It isn’t granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness,
And God said “NO”
He said He gives blessings,
Happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain,
And God said “NO”
He said, “Suffering draws you apart
from worldly cares and
brings you closer to me.”
I asked God to make my spirit grow
And God said “No”
He said I must grow on my own,
But he will prune me to make me fruitful.
I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me,
And God said, “Ah, finally you have the idea.”
God is in control
The And God Said NO poem gives me perspective every time I read it. It helps me remember I’m not the one in control and why that’s a good thing.
When my whole life plan changed and I felt like I had no choice but to move to the U.S., I saw the pride that was there for me to give up.
When I was in a coma for 8 days after a car crash, I understood that my spirit is whole and my body temporary.
All the struggles I’ve had as a single mom and mom entrepreneur have taught me that patience is earned.
My pain and injuries after Elydia’s birth reminded me what truly matters and drew me even closer to God.
Plans and projects falling through when it doesn’t even make sense are allowing me to grow on my own, even as I feel growing pains.
I’ve definitely seen how God’s NO has led me to understand that I really love others as I love myself.
Why does God say NO?
I don’t exactly know why God says NO. I mean, we both know I’m not God. God will say “yes,” “not yet,” and sometimes, “no.”
Many people would be quick to believe that if your prayers aren’t answered in the way you would like, that it’s either punishment or disapproval.
To that, I repeat what it says in John 9:3:
“Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
Being a mom, I can relate to the concept of a Heavenly Father because I say NO to my kids when I feel it’s in their best interest, even when I know they will, inevitably, throw a tantrum or even hold a grudge.
God said NO to protect me from harm I can’t foresee.
When God is trying to protect you, it may feel that He is deaf to your cries because He won’t grant the wish you long for, or because you’re dealing with really heavy emotions.
I have seen that with the way things turned out in my marriage. My initial bitterness turned into gratitude when I found out everything that was secretly going on and how my daughters were at risk.
It’s impossible to understand this when you’re in the thick of it, so it’s normal to feel anxiety and fear.
Reminding ourselves that there’s more than meets the eye and that we will “soon” understand can provide ease and peace during those trying times.
God said NO because there was something greater in store for me.
Hearing that “there’s a purpose,” or that “it’s probably for the best” while you’re in the middle of the struggle may feel like a hard slap on the face.
However, I am a firm believer that rejection is redirection.
God’s NO to my request is a YES to his purposes, and yet, knowing that doesn’t make the pain go away.
I like the way C.S. Lewis put it:
“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
I am guilty of spending way too much time holding on to something or someone that wasn’t meant for me.
Accepting God’s will and letting go of earthly desires isn’t an easy thing to do.
And when I say earthly desires, I don’t mean car, house, furniture, clothing, and money in the bank.
All of those righteous desires of us: the ring, the marriage, and the baby in the carriage?
The way we want to see them manifested is as temporary as our pain. God has promised us that our joy is eternal.
Remember the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22?
I’m not crying – you’re crying.
Okay, I am crying.
I’ve been practicing gratitude for what I do have and those I do have, and in doing that a bit better I’ve found the culprit of my unhappiness and disappointment:
I’ve come to call this “the vineyard laborers’ syndrome,” since we wouldn’t complain about what we get (it’s what we signed up for) unless we know how much the others got.
Yeah… I feel a blog post coming on this one, but for now you can read that parable in Matthew 20:1-16.
God said NO because it would reveal my divinity.
I am no Michelangelo. I can’t see The David in a piece of rock.
God, on the other hand, is The Master Architect and I am His Masterpiece.
Are you chuckling along with me? Some masterpiece, huh?
And that’s just it. A precious, divine, and beautiful piece of rock He keeps chiseling out.
See, God is not so concerned with my feeling better right now, but helping me gain from the pain.
God won’t answer my prayer with instant gratification and temporary fixes because He wants to comfort me through the process and lead me to lasting transformation.
God’s NO is developing my character and bringing out all the divine qualities that I need.
God’s NO is preparation.
Each NO along my journey has cultivated perseverance, patience, and persistence and it has built my faith.
Each time God says no, we are able to see where we are in our earthly attachments.
We can examine where our treasures lie and what idols may be worshipping; those things where we seek happiness in this world.
Then we are able to surrender, to quietly accept His will, because that is how we can live up to our potential.
My loving God is in control
I’ve learned that God is not my genie – and even genies have a limit on how many wishes they can grant.
I am working at being less demanding and more humble in my requests, and to surrender to His NO.
Doubt, bitterness and discouragement are part of grieving, and yet, with each experience, we must learn to move through the stages a bit quicker.
When something I yearn to see happen (or not happen) doesn’t work out for me, rather than whining or complaining about how unfair it is and wallowing in self-pity, I need to practice acceptance.
He’s not a cruel God that just ignores or forgets our pleads. He hears us and cares for us.
His will and His timing is perfect, so it is natural that many times, these won’t match up with ours.
Delay is not denial, so maybe He will say yes someday… and maybe not in the way I think.
As they say: “Prayer doesn’t get man’s will done in heaven, but God’s will done on earth.”
So tonight, I will get on my knees, and pour my soul out to God in prayer.
And as I lay my sorrows at His feet, I will strive to remember that prayers are answered to my benefit.
May I listen for the answer and praise, both when it’s a Yes or a No.
Has God said no to your righteous petition before? Tell us your experience below!
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM
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