Hearing no for an answer is always tough. Have you ever prayed for something and gotten a flat out no in response? I know I have. Sometimes it’s small things and other times it’s life-changing.
I can clearly recall the Monday night after Young Life when our group gathered and prayed for safe travels to the Burger King where we met for fellowship after. We had spent the evening engaging in skits, playing games and learning about Jesus. And we were on our way to the beloved fast food restaurant for fries and milkshakes, when there was an accident. A fatal accident.
As a new Christian, I was forced to grasp at the unthinkable. We had just prayed for specifically this. We had asked God to keep us safe on our short journey and He said no.
Why would He do that with a group of kids seeking after Him? How could He let us down like that?
Moving forward from such a tragic answer to our prayers was tough. But there were three things that I found to be essential in holding onto my faith and continuing to trust God when He says no.
Cling to Others in Fellowship
During the times where God says no, it is essential to surround ourselves with others who are going to push us towards Christ. Many times, the first reaction to a “no” is defiance.
Why not? That can’t be right?
I know I question what I heard and if I heard it clearly.
And because of this, we must have others who are going to help us to work through these questions and to seek God in the midst.
Fellowship allows our hearts to rest. When carrying a burden of pain, hardship or struggle, our strength often falters.
And in this weakness, we can choose to rely on temporary fills or we can seek the strength of those around us.
My favorite example of this is when Moses is called to hold his arms up for the entirety of a battle. Can you imagine what he was thinking?
Why God? This doesn’t make sense. I don’t have the strength. Just bring us victory.
Moses could not see the bigger picture in the moment of his weakness. His arms grew tired and when his strength faltered and they lowered, his people began to lose the battle. But it was then that his friends stepped in to help hold his arms high.
What a great metaphor for our lives today. Our friends in Christ can help to hold us up when we are weak.
When you struggle with an answer from God that leaves you reeling, don’t lower your arms in defeat, but find those who will help you find the strength to continue on.
Cling to the Truth
We must remember that our greatest weapon in times of trial is the Word of God. His promises are woven throughout Scripture. But, God does not promise that our life will be easy. He doesn’t promise to answer our every request with a “yes”. (Although we would all love that, right?!)
When we ask for something, even something as great as healing or relief, God reminds us that He has overcome the world.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. –John 16:33
Jesus tells the disciples that there will be trouble in this world. But He reminds them that in Him there is peace. Because He died on the cross, we can have the hope of salvation and the hope that one day we will be united with Him for eternity.
Unfortunately, there is no disclaimer that God will say “yes” to our prayers. But remember that we see things from our human perspective, but God sees things from an eternal perspective.
As hard as it was to see past the grief, trauma and tragedy of the accident, when I finally caught a glimpse through the pain, I was able to see God working miracles. The next week there were over 100 students and several parents at our Young Life event to hear about Jesus. There were many who gave their life to Christ, and many others, like myself, who grew tremendously deeper in their faith.
During these difficult times, we must cling to the true promises in Scripture. We must align our hearts with God’s so that we can move forward in faith.
We must remember how deeply He loves us and that He is working all things for our good. If you can cling to that promise, you will find the strength to move forward in faith.
Cling to God in Prayer
God has answered several really big prayers in my life with a “no” and the hardest thing for me to do was to continue to let Him into my heart in prayer. I wanted to shut Him out. I felt betrayed and abandoned.
But by doing this, I tumbled into times of emptiness and pain. I’ve learned that, as hard as it is, we must cling to God in prayer, even when He says “no”. We must remember His promises and seek to stay intimate with Him daily.
It will be hard during these times to be open, vulnerable and elaborate in prayer. I was so afraid to ask for anything for a long time for fear of feeling rejected and abandoned again.
What got me through that time were the little prayers. Prayers thanking God for what I could not see. Prayers asking for strength to get through the unknown. Prayers asking God to change my heart to be like His.
And as I prayed these small and seemingly feeble prayers, God began to work. He answered one by one and I began to grow in my trust, slowly but surely. And that trust took root in my heart.
I've created these prayer cards to cut out and use daily. These little prayers helped me hold onto my intimacy with God when I was hurting and struggling in my faith. They are in the free resources tab so if you haven't subscribed, you can do that below!
Now when there is a “no”, don’t get me wrong, I struggle and I question. But when God answers “no” to my prayers, I can lean on Him in the trust that is rooted in my heart and I can move forward in faith that He is good and that He is working for my good. I can live by the strength that comes from His grace and mercy with the hope of bringing Him glory above all.