What is your no?
Maybe a dream job? A relationship? A desired goal? Maybe it’s that negative pregnancy test. Maybe it’s the confirmation of disease delivered in the hard words on a pathology report or bottom line of the MRI? The slow shake of a doctor’s head?
No is never easy. No angers us. No disappoints us. No devastates us.
Sometimes the reason for the No will show itself in time, and we are blessed by the insight and wisdom we gain through being able to capture the whole process in our minds. We can see exactly why God said no and we are all about praising Him for working it out on our behalf. Much of the time; however, the bigger plan for the greater good is cloaked and in this life, goes unrevealed. Unrevealed because the beauty in the No would be lost on us. It’s infinite, extraordinary, eternal and we are finite, ordinary, and so temporal. Yes, it would be lost on us.
I would be amiss to not address what I will call the Consequential No. We are sinful, “stiff-necked” people. We come from the original “don’t tell me no” folks. Some of the No’s we get are a direct result of our poor choices and/or the sin of others. While God wants to lavish us with all things amazing, we continue to exercise our free will and that gets in the way. Natural consequences in this natural world result in a hard, cold No!
This is not heaven and there will be injustice and heartache and plenty of No. This is just our temporary home.
It’s the No that comes after prayer, seeking, searching….. The No that comes after we have been obedient to resign our desire to God’s will. That’s the No that we mourn over. The one we long to find understanding in. We think if we can just find God’s reason, it will somehow be an easier pill to swallow. That is the No we have to resolve before it dissolves our spiritual and emotional well-being. So what do we do with this heavy-weighted No?
First, know this:
You’re not at war with No, you are at war with Acceptance.
The burden isn’t on God to provide you with detailed, palatable explanations. The burden is on you to eventually, after appropriately grieving the No, acquiesce. Please hear my heart – There is a time for grief, for honest conversations with the Lord, for torrents of tears, even for anger, but only a time. Eventually, living in that state will destroy you.
We have some options. We can throw ourselves on the ground kicking and hitting like a 2 year old. We can scream until our voices fail. We can even bang our heads on the floor, but none of that changes the No. What it does do is further hurt us and drag those in close proximity into the scalding heat of our rage. After the ashes from the volcanic eruption settle, No is still No.
We can beg God. Moses did. He got one of those consequential No’s. A devastating blow. In an incident during his 40 years of leading the whiny, stubborn, demanding Israelites through war after war, hardship after hardship, He disobeyed God, bringing glory to himself instead of the Almighty. God right then and there said No seeing the Promised Land for you and your brother. Nope. The time came when Moses begged God to change his mind. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to my any more about this matter”. (Deuteronomy 3:26) No was still No. Moses died only seeing the Promised Land from a mountain top miles and miles away.
We can run from God. Jonah did. He ended up in the belly of a whale before doing exactly what God had asked him to do in the first place. In his case, Go was still Go. Jonah’s No was an answer to the old do I have a choice question.
We can test God. Gideon did. If you are really going to do what you say you will Lord, I need a sign, and then another. We can do that. Intellectually, we can find every reason why blind trust is for the stupid when really, a simple mind is exactly what we need. Choose trusting not testing.
We can imitate our Lord. Knowing all that was bearing down upon him, Jesus went into prayer. Let his words settle into the corners of your mind and the hurting parts of your heart…”My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”……. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38,39). No begging for a different outcome. No running away from his purpose. No testing the trustworthiness of the Father’s plan. Acceptance.
Acceptance is your burden, not the answer No. Pick it up, carry it, embrace it. Offer it to others. Show them how to do the same.
Acceptance must be invited. It is the beginning of God being glorified through your No.
Acceptance is letting go of control, even when there are no answers.
Acceptance is an offering of praise. When I am at the end of my angst over the No, when I’m exhausted from the search for answers that cannot be found, it is then I can rest in Him. It is there where I find my peace.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah43:1b, 2