First, we know that God loves us (1 John 4:8 ESV). He showed His love for us even when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8 ESV) by sending His only son, Jesus, to be a propitiation for our sins and to die on a cross that we might have eternal life (1 John 4:10; John 3:16 ESV). His word tells us that absolutely nothing, no one and no experience can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39 ESV).
And precisely because He loves us, He sometimes answers ‘No’ to what we request in our prayers. That’s what loving parents do. They say, “No” to a diet of only soda and ice cream. They say, “No” to hanging out all night. They say, “No” to pornographic and vulgar television and violent video games. They say, “No” to wrong friends and bad habits. I feel certain that my parents were not the only ones reminding children that they had already had certain experiences, that they were older and wiser and that they knew best. Matthew teaches us that if sinful parents know how to give good gifts to their children, then even more so the heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children (7:11 NLT). Our all knowing and all wise God (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 3:20; Psalm 147:5 ESV) loves us and knows what is best for us — far more than we ever could. We also know that He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think or even, in our wildest dreams, imagine (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).
So – when God says, “No,” thank Him. He saved you from less than His best!
Romans 8:32 (NLT) says, “Since he did not spare even His own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” What can even compare to the sacrifice of His Son? The answer would be, “Nothing!
Sometimes when our earthly parents answered, “No,” we stamped our feet, pouted, rolled our eyes and had full blown hissy fits. We begged, we pleaded, we made our case for why we ought to have what we asked for. As adults, but especially as children of God, we should be sensitive to our Father’s answers and stop insisting on something that God has already refused to grant. God has not promised to answer every prayer with “Yes.” The Scriptures teach us that if we pray according to His will, He hears us and we can know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15 ESV). They may come in His timing rather than ours and they may not look like what we imagined, but He will answer.
And His answer will be His best for our best.
Thank you, God!
THIS WEEK thank God for loving you enough to answer, “No.” Determine to not only be accepting of His answer but also grateful for His love which always answers best.
NOTE: We are still vacationing, so I am posting while I have Internet access!
~excerpted from The Pattern of Peace by Charles Stanley
“[I]t can sometimes seem as if we are victims of our highly stressful world, but in reality, every Christian can choose to live in peace rather than under a burden of anxiety. If we let apprehension rule our hearts, it will interfere with sleep, disrupt concentration, hinder productivity, steal joy, and even cause health problems. However, when Christ, the Prince of Peace, has full authority over our lives, He guards our hearts and minds by building a wall of protection against worry.
Stress may pull us apart mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, but God’s peace will always bind us back together so we can be whole again. And while we cannot control many of the stressful situations in our lives, we can decide which master we will serve.”
If you do not know the inner peace that only God can bring, you can! This is the ideal season for you to meet His Son, Jesus, who came into the world to make peace between you and God. He died on the cross, was buried and rose again to bring you into a right relationship with God, the Father. (Romans 5:1) If you will accept Jesus as your personal Savior, all your sins will be forgiven, and He will give you His peace (John 14:27). Please visit the SALVATION tab above to learn more and to take the first step toward a relationship with Christ and His peace.
If you already have a relationship with Christ, this is a great season to rededicate your life to Him. You might start by reading these Scriptures: 2 Kings 20:3; Psalm 119:44. Read, too, Jacob’s story in Genesis 28:16-18, and begin the habit of rededicating yourself daily. Consider what that might look and sound like.
We’ve all had the experience of thinking that we had found that special one of our dreams to later realize that (s)he was actually the one of our nightmares. We’ve also experienced our children saying and doing the unthinkable and being nothing like what we thought we had “raised” them to be. And we have been excited to begin a job and then dread going to the very place that used to bring us such joy. And, let’s be honest, we have had times that we couldn’t place the blame anywhere else other than at our own feet, and we have been disappointed in ourselves – can’t believe we said that, thought that, acted like that.
Now, let’s be real honest – especially since you have only to tell yourself the truth. Have you ever been disappointed in God?
Yikes! Surely that must be blasphemous!
Sheila Walsh says, “God is big enough, and His love is fierce enough to deal with anything we feel or must face.” In other words, He can take it. In better words, He can help you through it.
Look at John 11:1-3 (ESV).
“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.'”
Hmm. Mary had anointed the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair. It was her brother that was ill. Surely Jesus is going to drop everything and make a beeline to their home. And if that wasn’t enough, verse 3 emphasizes that Jesus loved Lazarus, too. That’s like the cherry on top; He is coming now for certain. If we look ahead, even verse 5 of this text says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
Can’t you picture Mary and Martha – and even Lazarus? They’re not sad. They’re not worried. “Jesus loves us, and He is coming!” I picture them sitting around reminiscing about the miracles they’d seen Jesus perform. THIS will be NOTHING for Him.
But He didn’t come. At least not right away. And Lazarus died. Then Jesus came.
Let’s skip way ahead in this text to verse 20. “So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.” This being a Christian blog, let’s just suffice it to say Mary was probably a bit disappointed. Her hopes and expectations were dashed on several rocks – first Jesus not coming when they had sent for Him even AFTER she had wiped His feet with her hair AND Lazarus has now died!!!!! Then Jesus just strolls in rather nonchalantly. Are you serious?
Jesus had intentionally delayed. Look back at verse 6 which reads, “So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was.”
Jesus was not running late. He wasn’t caught up or caught off guard. He hadn’t bitten off more than He could chew. He heard about Lazarus, and He intentionally stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
And Mary was disappointed. In verse 32b she says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
You know how women say one thing and mean something else? (I can write that since I am a woman.) I read that Mary said, “If you’d been here, Lazarus would still be alive.” I imagine that Mary meant, “Where were you? Why didn’t you come? Don’t you care? Didn’t you know? How could you not have come? I thought you loved us! Is this how you show love?”
It didn’t help either that there were a bunch of naysayers hanging around in verse 37 – “But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
There are SO many lessons in this text.
But let’s go back to Mary’s disappointment. Did you notice that it didn’t faze the Lord? He heard her – her spoken words and the words of her heart. He loved her no less. He let her pour out her heart, and then He did what He came to do. In verse 40 He reminded them, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” And the glory of God is what He showed them as He called Lazarus from the grave. Wow! Healing the sick is one thing. Raising the dead, that’s another!
God loved Mary. He loved Martha. He loved Lazarus. But He didn’t rush to their aid.
He loves you. He may not rush to your aid.
He will, as the old Negro spiritual says, “come right on time.”
You may be disappointed, and you can tell Him, but never doubt Him. Keep believing, and He will show you the glory of God!
Read Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) each day this week then reflect on the given questions.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
MondayQuestions for Reflection: What are the disappointments of your life? List them (preferably in a journal). At the top and bottom of the page write, “Hope does not disappoint.” Revisit your journal periodically and the list of disappointments. Make note of how God reveals Himself and His glory in relation to each one.
Tuesday Questions for Reflection: Could it be that God delays to build endurance in us? How do you think Mary, Martha and even Lazarus changed after Lazarus was raised from the dead? When was a time that God’s delay brought you a greater blessing?
WednesdayQuestions for Reflection: Identify a current disappointment in God. Can you choose to worship Him through it? How does that make you feel?
Thursday Questions for Reflection: Look at those who have surrounded you. Are they feeding and encouraging your disappointment (like the Jews who asked “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”) or are they encouraging your hope in the Lord? Might you need to separate yourself from someone – at least for a season?
Friday Questions for Reflection: Examine your own actions. Are you feeding someone else’s disappointment or are you encouraging their hope in the Lord? What do you need to start doing, stop doing or do more of?