Few of us think about “no” as an answer to prayer. We feel rebuffed, turned down, or rejected when we don’t get what we had hoped as we prayed. But God is gracious. Even in His “NO” He is showing us mercy!
Sometimes we hear NO and it means, “NO, YOU are not ready for what you are asking for.” Sometimes we hear NO and it means, “NO, the timing is not right for this yet.” And sometimes we hear “NO” and it means, “I am doing something even in the unpleasant circumstances of your life to help you to GROW spiritually.” “NO,” then, means SLOW…you need to GROW!
Often in the midst of the fiery trial we learn our most important lessons of being shaped and conformed to the image of Christ. We remember it is the PRIMARY reason God saves us and then leaves us here on earth “that we may be conformed to the image of Christ.” (Romans 8:26)
But the process of being conformed takes time. It is not instantaneous; in fact, it takes a lifetime! We somehow have bought a lie that says God saved us to make us comfortable and happy, when in reality God saved us to make us conformable and holy!
When Paul prayed in 2 Corinthians 12 asking God to take away from him a “thorn in the flesh” that was continually tormenting him and slowing him down, Paul received a gracious NO. God’s gracious NO was, “Paul, I am not taking this thorn away from you. It is my plan to allow your experience with it to keep you humble and to make you conform to the image of my Son.”
Sometimes, NO means GROW. It’s time for us to stop expecting that God is just waiting for our next command to ensure our comfort and begin believing that, even when the thorn is sticking us, God is in control.
“My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
FOR REFLECTION: Are there experiences in your life that you assumed were God’s refusing to answer you that you now can see were God’s grace toward you?