What Happens When God Says No?

5 min read

How do you know if God is saying no in a certain situation?

Should you carry on, seeing it as opposition to battle through, or should you take no for an answer?

This is a complicated question and the bottom line is, as humans, we don’t always understand God’s ways. Remember the verses from Isaiah 55?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

At the end of the day, we cannot reason with God. He is God and we are human. His ways are higher than ours and sometimes we just have to hold the ‘maybe’ or the ‘not yet’ or the ‘no’ in an open palm and learn from it.

Doors closing

When my husband and I fell pregnant with our third child, we knew we’d need a new house as we had outgrown the one we were in but a series of events left me feeling the doors weren’t being closed but rather slammed in our faces. It was hard, but in retrospect, it was the start of a long journey that led us out of the area where we were living and into a new one where we still live now. Sometimes the no means something better is coming.

I adore Frederick Buecher’s writing, and one of his quotes speaks volumes to me. He writes:

“Once in a while, there is the suggestion of purpose, meaning, direction, the suggestion of plot, the suggestion that, however clumsily, your life is trying to tell you something, take you somewhere.” Listening to Your Life

And it is this following of breadcrumbs, listening to the nudges of God and remembering the times He has spoken, which show us that perhaps life isn’t completely random. Ultimately, we have to trust God as He holds our times in His hands. I believe that God wants to be intimately involved in our lives and that means that when you get an unexpected no, hold it for a while. Is it not yet, is it no, or is it that there is something better coming? The times when He says no are part of a bigger conversation.

Jesus said yes to Gods will

Even Jesus wrestled with His Heavenly Father in the garden of Gethsemane – He begged that the cup would be taken from Him but it wasn’t.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

What are we to gather from this? That Jesus didn’t understand the will of God? That He changed His mind and wanted no part of it? Or was it simply that He was human and that He knew what was coming?

There are several things at play here:

1. Living in a fallen world

We have to realize that we are living in a fallen world and as a result of that things sometimes go wrong. There are car accidents, marriages break up and people die. None of these things are ‘God’s will’, but bad things happen.

2. Doors closing

Sometimes when a door closes in our face, it can be discouraging, but sometimes it’s helpful and is a reminder that yes we tried that door, but it wasn’t the right one at the time. Sometimes we need doors to close to remind us to look for other doors.

3. Lack of patience

Sometimes we wait for many years, praying the same prayers, without seeing the thing we prayed for come to pass. At certain times, it is a case of waiting and living in that waiting. In our 24-7 society, we expect quick results, and it can be tempting to always have our eyes fixed on the next goal.

Perhaps it is marriage or kids, or it could be a new job or a promotion. It can be tempting to give up on things that haven’t come to fruition yet or to think that God doesn’t want that for us, but sometimes things just take time. The things that we long for will form our characters.

My eleven-year-old daughter is Type 1 diabetic and we have prayed for her healing but also we pray for a cure or more advanced technology that would make her daily life a whole lot easier. We have seen huge improvements in diabetes technology and we keep praying.

I still have unfulfilled desires that I pray for, many of us do. Don’t give up hoping and praying.

Sometimes things just take time.

Even if He does not

In the book of Daniel, we read that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego say to the King:

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, then God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 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 men believe in their God, even if He doesn’t answer their prayers. Their lives are in His hands and they trust Him.

Photo by Ethan Dow on Unsplash.

So what can we do when God says no?

1. Surrender to His will

Say it out loud. It makes a difference.

“Father God, my life is in Your hands. Even though it feels like You are saying no, I trust that You want what is best for me and I trust Your plan for my life. Amen”

2. Reread your promise words

Do you ever keep a note of words of Scripture that have spoken to you? If you don’t then perhaps begin to write them down along with any pictures that you receive. When you are feeling discouraged, or that God is saying no, look for the ‘yeses’ that He has already spoken over you.

3. Speak His promises over your life

Find some promises of God in Scripture and declare them out loud over your life. He has plans to “prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer.29:11)

We hope this blog post has helped you to see that God has good plans for your life and the steps you can take when God says no. Check out our other blog posts here.

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