Sunday, April 17, 2011

When the Answer is No

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" — 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, ESV

"You just pray it and believe it.  If you claim it in faith, it will be given to you."


I was reading 2 Corinthians 12 tonight when I came across these verses again.  I have read this passage so much in my life that it's made it's way into my memory.  God has brought this passage to my mind so often to encourage me so many times.  And it has.  But tonight, as I read it again, this thought came to my mind:

There are times when God's answer to my request is no.  When it is, my response should be the same as when he says yes.

That's tough.  Here's the reason: I'm usually praying in such a way that requires a positive response from Jesus.  Those are the prayers that I want to see fulfilled.  But when God says no, there's a natural tendency for me to get all bummed out rather than being thankful that God said no.

Here's the thing though: Paul was asking the Lord to remove the "messenger of Satan" that was given to him to keep him from becoming conceited because of the amazing things that God was showing him.  When Paul asked for "Satan's messenger" to be taken away, God said "no" by reminding him of this: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

This request seems doable and right.  It seems like the response should be "of course", but God has something else in mind.  He says no for Paul's own good.

I know that this is hard to handle.  I know that this is difficult to digest.  But it's true.  So often, God's greatest gifts are wrapped in the wrapping paper of trial.  For him to take away the trial would require him having to take away the gift as well.  Hang in there.  Keep going.  Keep trusting.  There will be times, and are times presently, when things don't make sense and seem out of control.  When that happens, pray.  Just make sure of this: no matter what God's response is to your request, it's always based on his best interest that he has in mind for me.

It is my prayer that whether God answers me with yes or not, that my response will always be one of gratitude, knowing that God's response is always best.

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