We all know it and have experienced it, the painful little word, “no.” It might have been as a small child when denied the desire of your heart by a parent or even in recent days when, again, the longing in your heart was declined. Perhaps an unwanted answer to your prayer, a crushed dream, or loss experienced all because of “no.”
It is important to understand; however, that “no” really isn’t a bad word, although it sure feels like it in the moment, especially when it seems a “yes” would make all things well. In fact, we see the wisdom and hidden beauty of God at work through “no” throughout scripture: God told Adam and Eve “no” to the fruit of the tree in the garden in order to grant free will (Genesis 2:17). “No” was experienced by the Apostle Paul when denied the removal of a thorn in his flesh, teaching him and us an important lesson, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And even a “no” to Jesus’ request to “let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39) brought about the necessary gift of salvation through his death on the cross.
“No” can be hard for us to hear, but our response to the no is crucial.
“No” opens the way for God’s presence.
“No” has purpose—the bringing forth of greater glory, even in the waiting God is working.
“No” means pause—important redirection is happening.
“No” is part of a process teaching us to trust God with the unknown.
“No” prepares us for something else, directing us away from our own will to God’s.
The best response to “no”:
- Do not deny or excuse the “no” but rather accept it with all the loss and reality it brings.
- Feel the pain of the “no,” it hurts and that’s okay.
- Don’t be afraid of it, fear is the enemy of faith.
- Embrace the “no,” stand and see the victory of God.
- Resist the shame of “no.” There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
- Trust God with the “no.”
- Fight the lies surrounding “no.” You are in a battle between the father of lies and Father God.
- Find joy in the “no.” Something better will come from it—grown-up faith, endurance, and a greater intimacy with God who shares His secrets in dark times (Isaiah 45:3).
- Feel safe in God’s “no.” Often he brings forth fruit in the infertile seasons.
- Don’t feel lost in a “no,” God uses the no to direct our path.
- Embrace the silence and solitude that “no” often brings.
- Remember that “no” is often just “not yet.”
- Believe that “no” is not your final destination.