Our passage today is one that is near and dear to my heart.
It’s a hard concept to understand…God answering prayers with a “No”.
Why would a loving God not give His children what they ask for?
We read last week that God is generous and knows how to give His children good gifts (Matthew 7:9-11)…this passage at first glance seems to contradict that truth….or does it?
We know from Scripture that God is good. (Psalm 107:1)He is love, and His ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Yet, many of us struggle when trying to understand why God moves in one situation and not another. Why He chooses to heal her but not me? Why a loving Father says “no” to His children when they cry out to Him, begging Him to take away a certain “thorn” that is in their life.
When we look at all these situations with eyes and hearts focused on the here and now, it is hard to understand. That’s why we must change our perspective, our “focus” if you may.
Behind every “no” from God is something GREATER He has in store for His children.
Yes, God is generous and an amazing Father who lavishes his children with good gifts. When He chooses to answer with a “no”, we must trust that God has something greater in store for our lives – something that we can’t understand or imagine – something that we just have to walk out through in faith and obedience.
I know a thing or two about “thorns in my flesh” and begging God….BEGGING Him for YEARS to remove it. When I read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, my heart hurts for Paul, and I relate to his pleading with God.
We are not sure what Paul’s thorn was, but whatever it was it affected his ministry.
From his perspective, praying to have this “thorn” removed was a good thing. It would help him be more effective in ministry, in reaching more people, in preaching the Gospel… “isn’t that a good thing?” I’m sure he asked God that in his prayers.
Yet God’s response was “No.”
“No”, because God had a greater purpose in that “thorn”.
Because of Paul’s “thorn” a man who was pretty self-reliant became dependent upon God.
Through Paul’s “thorn”, he developed greater grace and the ability to empathize with others – skills that were both desperately needed in helping to love and build up the Body of Christ. Through this “thorn”, Paul developed stronger character and genuine humility as he wholeheartedly served God knowing that it is not me but “Christ working through me.” (Philippians 2:13)
And what was the result of God allowing this “thorn” in Paul’s life? People around him were able to see Jesus better through him!
Because of the thorn, God’s power in Paul’s life was demonstrated!
Ahhh isn’t that the ultimate goal in all our lives? For those around us not to see us, but to see Jesus?
For Jesus to increase and for us to decrease.
For me, my “thorn” is my learning disability. I share more about this story in my book You Are Loved, which I co-authored with Sally Clarkson, but like Paul, I understand what it feels like to beg and plead with God to remove a “thorn” from your life.
And I understand the feeling that comes when the answer back is “no”…
For years I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to have a learning disability. I wanted to serve him mightily but I felt broken, damaged and unusable.
Let me be honest with you, I spent way too many years believing those lies!
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
No matter your past and no matter your mistakes, when you give your life to Jesus the Bible tells us that the old life is gone and a new life takes its place. (2 Corinthians 5:17)God is an expert in healing broken lives and bringing beauty from the ashes.
You are NEVER too broken, damaged or unusable for God.
Like Paul, over the years I’ve learned there is a greater purpose in my “thorn”. Though I still don’t like having it, I’m learning to embrace my “thorn” because it gives glory to my Father as friends and those around me see Him at work in my life.
I know without a doubt that I cannot run this ministry without Him. Every morning I get on my knees before I head out of my bedroom and beg God to work through me…work through my weaknesses. I am desperate for Him and am nothing without Him. So though I am weak, HE makes me strong.
“My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So what is the result of my weakness? That I can truly boast in the Lord! It is God who works and brings anything good that comes out of my life or out of this ministry…it is ALL HIM!
My life is for his glory.
“Therefore I will boast all the more Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
So if God chooses to answer my prayers with a “no” and allows “thorns” to stay in my life, then I will trust Him knowing he has something greater in store.
I will wait upon the Lord.
Let’s Talk: When has God answered your prayers with a “no”, and how did you grow in your relationship with Him as a result?
Love God Greatly,
Week 7 Challenge:
This week we are reading about the different ways God answers our prayers. Take time this week to record, either in your Growing Through Prayer Journal or another journal, how God has worked in your life after He has answered one of your prayers with a “no”…what was the greater good that came from His “no”?
Week 7 Video:
(Click here if you can’t see the video)
Week 7 Memory Verse:
Week 7 Reading Plan: