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God answers every prayer with “Yes,” “Wait,” or “No.” The last response is always the most difficult one to receive, and can be flat-out heartbreaking ~ Rick Warren

I’m going through a little stretch right now where God has said “no” to a few things I’ve been fervently praying for. In the moment, His “no” always seems tough to take, doesn’t it? A “no” from God can be not only heart-breaking, but confusing, discouraging, and—can I be really transparent here—downright irritating.

In your teens, did you ever have a crush on someone who didn’t feel the same way about you? Oh, the disappointment and sting of rejection! But when some time passed and your pain subsided, you found yourself actually glad the relationship never materialized? Your disappointment was in reality God’s appointment. His mercy. All it took to change your interpretation of the “no” was time and perspective.

I remember approximately sixteen years ago, while working in the marketplace, I was applying for a role with another company. I really wanted that job. I told myself it was a perfect fit, the perfect time, the perfect boss, etc. And when the role was awarded to someone else, it was a significant blow. Fast-forward several years, and when talking with the guy who got the job instead of me, he gave insight to the unique pressures and pace of that role. And I remember thinking, “God you spared my life by saying ‘no.’” The unrelenting stress of that job would have put me in an early grave. Once again, disappointment was His appointment.

I wish that every no from God could be understood with the passing of time and gaining of perspective. But occasionally His no won’t make sense on this side of heaven. Recently God said no when hundreds of us were praying for a dear friend suffering from a rare form of cancer. His name is Curt. We collectively were asking God to restore him to health, to give him more time here with us.

After weeks and weeks of crying out to God to give Curt a miracle so he could stay here on planet earth . . . we received the dreaded no. And this particular no really stung. Curt was an amazing Jesus-follower, son, husband, father, and grandfather. A man of integrity and godly character. I found myself saying, “God I don’t understand this one!” And I’m pretty sure I won’t until I get to heaven.

I’m certain you have similar stories. God said no and you didn’t understand in the moment why. You felt pain, sadness, maybe even anger. And then somewhere along the line you had an epiphany. God’s reason(s) for saying no became clear. And I’m sure you have a few stories of His no that to this day don’t make sense to you.

When God’s no remains confusing—even years later—what can you do? How do you process the divine “nyet?”

You know, I’m not exactly sure. I think remembering that ultimately God is good is helpful. Acknowledging that He sees much farther down the road than we do might lessen our disappointment. Understanding that His ways are higher than ours may bring some relief. But the truth is, sometimes the pain or confusion of a no from God will linger for the rest of our lives. The trick is, learning how to move forward and keep following Him despite our pain and confusion.

I’m not confused about these things:

  1. God is for us, not against us
  2. He is good, all the time
  3. He has our best interests in mind, always
  4. He is trustworthy
  5. I don’t have to process disappointment in a vacuum. God has placed great people in my life to walk through seasons of confusion and disappointment.

So when He says no and we don’t understand, let’s try to lean on the above five foundational beliefs. We can share our grief with Him. God is not put off by that. We can process our pain with safe people. If you don’t have a safe person to share your grief and pain with, Converge Coaching mentors are expert listeners.

Sometimes, after days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years, we’ll end up understanding His no while we’re in this present life. Sometimes we won’t get it until the next life. If you’ve heard “no” from God lately, hang in there. He’s for you. He’s good. He wants the best for you. And He is eminently trustworthy.

Rooting and praying for you,

John

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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