When God says “No!”

“My ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8)

In II Corinthians 12:8 we have the account by Paul of his “pleading” with God three times to remove the thorn in his flesh.  The Greek word to describe the apostle Paul “pleading” with God is a word that means to get as close to someone as you possibly can, and then beg them for something.  We know what a godly man Paul was, yet God said no to his pleading.  In Deuteronomy 3:25, Moses “pleaded” with God to let him see the Promised Land.  Yet, God also said no to him.  We find that King David too “pleaded” with God to spare his sick child’s life in II Samuel 12:16; still the child died. 

You would think if God was going to answer anyone’s prayers, it would have been these three special saints.  Yet, each of them got a big “No!” from God.  If you and I question why he said no, it may tell us something about the way we think.  It may reveal to us that we tend to presume upon God.  It’s an easy thing to do, but it is a wrong thing to do.  We cannot assume that in every situation in our life, God wants to do the spectacular.  God is not in the business of handing out miracles that heal every sick person or provide a miraculous escape from every difficulty. 

Yes, Jesus did a ton of miracles when he was here.  However, those miracles were to mainly validate to people who he was.  Our faith is now strengthened not by what we see, but by the relationship we have with him.  If our faith is not strong enough to survive without a regular supply of the miraculous, something is very wrong with our faith.  We may be preferring the miracle over the miracle worker. 

One of the most amazing statements of faith in the bible came from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they found themselves cooking in Nebuchadnezzar’s meat smoker.  They told the King, “the God we serve is able to deliver us…..But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18).  These three were determined to trust God, no matter what the outcome of their predicament was.  They trusted God to make the decision for their lives. 

Is our faith strong enough to trust God to make the decisions for our lives?  Or do we need miracles and regular answers to prayer to sustain our faith?  I’m not saying we should not pray for miracles and answers to our situations in life.  Scripture is clear that one of the reasons we do not receive is because we do not ask.  I’m asking each of us to examine our faith and see if it is strong enough to remain unmovable by allowing God to decide what the answer to our prayers will be – even if He says “No!”