We don’t like to be told ‘no’. From the time we’re small children the word strikes at the very core of our humanity. Being denied something we want ticks us off. Just take a look around and you’re sure to find the dissatisfied murmurings, screams and all out tantrums of those who have been told, ‘no’. As a parent, we can laugh off some of the protests because we can see that our little one simply doesn’t get ‘it’. No – you can’t wear your winter hat, coat and boots to the 4th of July parade even if they do have blue stars and look happy. No – you cannot use my fabric scissors to cut out pictures for your social studies project. No – you cannot stay home by yourself…you’re 4. But what about when it’s you, how do you feel when you’re told no?
- No – we just ran out of today’s special, would you like to order something else?
- No – you can’t use the coupon on that item because it’s on sale
- No – the seller accepted another offer, let me show you another house
- No – the promotion is going to your co-worker
- No – the job was offered to another
- No – the birth mother has decided to keep her baby
- No – you weren’t accepted into that school
- No – the judge says full custody goes to your spouse
- No – there are no more extensions to be offered
So many nos. Some of them are mere annoyances, others are heartbreaking and soul shaking. When we’re believing God for something in our lives we build up our faith. We say the right things, we put on the smile and wait expectantly. But what happens when the answer finally does come and it’s no? Does it change any truths about God? Does it change who we are and what He has promised us? Does it cancel His plans for our lives?
The truth is nos can be very hard to handle. They can seem like a dirty trick and an elaborate plan to ruin us. Even when you know all the scripture and you know the promises, it can still hurt. This week we received a no and while I was kind of expecting it to come, it still hurt to finally hear it. I didn’t think it would affect me the way that it has, but it has really challenged me and my faith.
See, there’s the part of me that says, ‘suck it up, get over it, move on’. And then there’s the part of me that says, ‘now what!? This would be a good time to panic.’ But then there’s another voice, much quieter than the rest, calling me to simply stop for a moment. I don’t like pain, so I try to keep myself busy or asleep to avoid coming face to face with disappointment. But God tells me to stop for a moment and look at the situation.
Nos certainly leave us discouraged and I believe we really must grieve those circumstances in order to be free from the negative effects of disappointment. If we ignore the feelings that arise when we’re told no, we can become pessimistic, disenchanted with life and even bitter. If we view a ‘no’ only through our limited lens of life we lose touch with the reality of our loving Father.
The truth is, God is working in your life. The truth is, He has a plan for you and it is good. The truth is, what you wanted to be a yes may have led to destruction or pain. The truth is, sometimes we’ll never understand why the answer was ‘no’ but we can understand God’s heart. The truth is, all the Christian clichés in the world do us no good if we don’t know Christ. The truth is, sometimes a ‘no’ is the absolute best thing for us.
So what do you do when the ‘no’ comes? If it’s something small like you’re favorite dish being sold out, acknowledge the disappointment and choose something else, ‘bummer, I was really looking forward to that. I guess now’s a great time to try something new.’ If it’s something bigger don’t try and rush past the feelings. Be present in the moment: cry, get angry, scream.
God isn’t afraid of your emotions; let the feelings come and experience them. Don’t try and stuff them down. Don’t eat, drink or sleep them away.
Take a good look at what you’re dealing with. Then, bring it into the light of Christ. Things looks strange in the dark. They look distorted and scary, but turn the light on and you realize that “monster” was really just a jacket hanging on the back of a chair. Life can look scary when the no comes but allow the light of Jesus to shine on your moment and you’ll see hope. You’ll see that a closed door, a ‘no’ is really not the end of the world. In fact, if could be a life-saving measure to keep you in the center of God’s perfect will.
Is there a ‘no’ in your life that you haven’t dealt with? Have you allowed yourself to grieve the ‘no’ moments? Are you using the lens of God’s Word to give you perspective and hope?
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Take heart friend, you are not alone. God is working and it’s good, very, very good.
Until next time – Becky