September 14, 2018

When God Says No

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you. . . .”

—  2 Corinthians 12:8-9

It is not always easy to understand God’s answers to our prayers. But we can be assured that he is always listening to us and that he wants what is best for us.

Sometimes, when it seems God is saying no to something, he may be saying yes to something else and leading us in a way that is different from our own plans.

Sometimes we do not receive what we pray for because we are not ready for it. So God’s answer may be more like “Yes, but not now.” In cases like that, we need to persist in prayer, but we should also ask for patience as we submit to God’s timing.

Other times God simply says no because what we are praying for is not in line with his will and what is best for us. God can decide not to give us something because he may have something else in mind for us—something greater than we can even ask or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20).

So we must pray to God with humility and trust. We might think that we know what’s best for us and that our timing makes more sense than God’s timing. But then we would be elevating ourselves above the God we pray to! As the Lord said to Paul when his prayer was declined, “My grace is sufficient for you.” In this way God reminds us that all our needs are met in Christ, and this allows us to pray, wait, and trust.

Lord, forgive me for thinking I have everything figured out. Help me to submit to you and trust in you. Thank you for your grace. It truly is all I need. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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