Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)
A number of years ago, country music star Garth Brooks recorded “Unanswered Prayers.” In the song, he tells of running into his high school girlfriend at a football game. He remembered how he’d prayed every night for the romance to last. This girl was, he thought at the time, the love of his life. But as they talked, he realized she wasn’t—his wife was.
And so he sings, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”
Have you ever prayed for something and didn’t get what you prayed for? Does that mean God didn’t answer your prayer?
No. God did answer. He said “no.” The phrase “unanswered prayers” is misleading because God always answers—in His time, in His way, and always for our best.
I saw a post on Facebook that listed three responses God gives to our prayer requests: yes, wait, and “I’ve got something better in mind.”
When God says “no,” He really does have something better in mind. We just don’t see it yet.
When King David wanted to build a temple in Jerusalem to house the Ark of the Covenant, God said “no.” The Ark, which represented God’s presence to the Israelites, had been housed in a tent since it was constructed when they were in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. “Here I am living in a palace of cedar,” David said, “while the ark of God remains in a tent” (2 Samuel 7:2).
But God said “no.” And He told David why: “You have shed much blood and have fought many wars” (1 Chronicles 22:8). Well, talk about a slap in the face! The wars David fought were so Israel would have peace. The blood he shed was Israel’s enemies’ blood. And this was the thanks he got? David wouldn’t get to build the temple, but his son Solomon would.
If that were me, I’d probably have a hissy fit, whining and complaining and reminding God of all the good things I’d done for Him, and why I deserved a “yes.”
But David accepted God’s “no,” and got everything ready for Solomon. He drew up the building plans, gathered the materials, developed a job schedule once the temple was completed. No wonder God called David “a man after my own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).
Then there was Paul of Tarsus, the great force behind the explosion of the first century church. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and jailed, all for Christ. When he asked God—three times—to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” which added suffering on to suffering, God said, “no.” Like David, Paul accepted God’s answer, realizing that God’s “no” meant something better. “My grace is sufficient for you,” God told him, “for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In God’s equation, weakness equals power (2 Corinthians 11:22-12:10).
When God says “no,” how do you react? Do you pout, get angry, doubt your faith, doubt God, lose your faith—or accept God’s answer and find peace?
Thank you, all-knowing and all-wise God, for always working in ways that’s best for me. Amen.
Special-Tea: 2 Samuel 7:1-14; 2 Corinthians 12: 1-10