I have been a part of prayer groups, I have been asked by friends to pray for their concerns and I have been witness to many answered prayers. I have also been witness to many unanswered prayers. So what’s happening there? Was I too far down the list? Was God on vacation? Was the wifi down? Did He just not hear us or did He ignore us? Or could He have possibly said ‘no’?
Four children. One girl, three boys. We have had to tell them no on more than one occasion. I remember reading an article over 12 years ago in a parenting magazine about a man who raised all his children while never muttering the word ‘no’. I remember thinking how empowering that must be for a child, then I remember thinking how exhausting that must be for a parent. Now four kids in and I can work some around the cherry tree reverse psychology on a toddler pretty darn good without ever telling them no. However, I can’t image doing that forever. And if we never said no how would that train our children to deal with disappointment in life?Together my husband and I have witnessed so much ‘yes’ coming from other parents our heads are spinning. We just cannot possibly tell our kids yes to everything they want and want to do all the time. We would never sleep or stop driving or be able to have any remote possibility of someday quietly rocking on a porch swing together eating canned beans. As we watch this odd phenomenon around us of always ‘yes’ we are firm in what our kids say is always ‘no’. It’s not always.
When our kids ask for something, we hear them. Yes sometimes a text message doesn’t go through or we forget to put it on the calendar because they ask us while we are doing 7 other tasks at the same time. But for the most part we hear them. The same way God hears us. There are times we say, ‘no you can’t stay out until midnight’ and it doesn’t hurt us at all. They may be disappointed but it’s an easy compromise and on with our day. Then there are the hard ones you have to say no to. Let’s face it, nobody likes hearing no, and not too many of us like saying no. I have found peace with no. It was a journey, but I am ok with saying no, when it’s for the well being of our family. I recently found myself in a line of other parents to hear about a dance team our son wanted to audition for. We told him from the start it wasn’t something we were interested in him pursuing at the time.
God knows the details, He doesn’t even have to ask. You don’t even need to know how to pray. He gave us the Holy Spirit to intercede for us when we don’t even know what to say. So why is it then He sometimes tells us no? Is He too busy doing a miracle in some other town or what? Or could it be as unfathomable as it may seem that He is doing something in us and through us by saying no? And how could that be? How could He not heal a child? How does that bring anyone closer to Him? How could He take away the business, house, cars and life you had worked so tirelessly to build? Is it because He doesn’t love you? Is it because He has a bigger plan for you and your family? Or could it be because He wants to use you to cling to Him, to remain faithful, to use your ‘no’ to bring others to Him? Could it be that ‘no’ for you, is a ‘yes’ for someone else because of how you responded to your no? I recently heard a pastor say, ‘He promises us a good life with Him. He does not promise us good life circumstances.”
So, yes, the boy made the dance team. And yes, we said no. And it hurt my heart to disappoint him. It was unexpected. All of it, the commitment, the travel and the expense. Is it something we will say yes to in the future? Yes. Did we say no to be mean, hurt his feelings or crush his dreams? No. Did we hear his pleas? Yes. Do we love him? Yes. So when our friend is dying of cancer, and we look at their children while we pray, does He hear us? Absolutely. When we are filled with fear in an uncertain world and we pray for peace, does He hear us? Yes. When we ask for just one more month to catch up the mortgage, does He hear us? Crystal clear. And when He says no, I think it breaks His heart to break ours. He knows if all circumstances were perfect, we wouldn’t need Him. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” So I guess the ultimate question would then be, do we trust Him to know what’s best for us even when its not our plan?