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What Do I Do With God’s No?

By: cookie cawthon

My daughter, Campbell, is a puzzle master. Misplaced pieces litter our life. It’s not uncommon for me to discover a stray piece as I vacuum, and it can be difficult to identify which puzzle it belongs to. The only context I have is what’s captured on the wonky-shaped cardboard.

Answers to our prayers can be like stray puzzle pieces. When God doesn’t deliver on a request, we can look at His answer in isolation and be confused by its wonky shape.

Why would You say no to healing my child?

Why didn’t I get the job?

Why am I still single?

Why did You allow my wife to leave?

There is a beautiful God-designed puzzle, replete with vibrant colors, in progress in your life and mine, and at any given time, we see a single piece out of context. Romans 8:28 assures us God allows pieces called cancer and loneliness and disappointment and bankruptcy — ALL puzzle pieces — as good elements of the picture on the puzzle box.

So when God says no we can be certain the piece we asked for didn’t fit. When He says not yet, we can know that other pieces have to be in place first.

When God says no we can be certain the piece we asked for didn’t fit. When He says not yet, we can know that other pieces have to be in place first.

What To Do When God’s Answer Is Not Yes

  • Trust in who God is – not what He does.

Our finite minds are incapable of understanding what God does, so our trust must be in His perfect goodness. Otherwise, we’ll bail the first time we don’t understand what He’s up to.

  • Fight the urge to take matters into your own hands.

When we feel like God is denying us, we are rash to yank the reins, and it goes badly every time. God will only say no or not yet for our good. He sees the whole picture; we don’t. When we insist on driving our circumstances, we may end up with a collection of random puzzle pieces that don’t amount to anything.

  • Recount God’s faithfulness in your life.

When we are mired in the disappointment of His answer, we can bolster our faith by regularly thanking Him for the ways He has been faithful in the past.

  • If His answer is no, rest in it.

When God says no, it means He has something better in mind. His “no” is an invitation to release the tension from our shoulders, breathe deeply, and settle into the assurance that God is the ultimate puzzle master. Sometimes we want what we want, even if it’s not God’s best, but we must discipline ourselves to trust His “no.”

  • If His answer is not yet, wait well.

While in a wait, we can know that God’s “not yet” means He’s still cultivating the right circumstances to make all things work for our good. The best question we can ask is “God, what do You want me to do in the wait?” Then get after it.

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