The sad news came in mid-summer 2020. Because of the global pandemic, schools in Oregon, USA, will be using online education in the fall, with in-person education being postponed until at least November. This news had a dramatic effect on my family. Though the pandemic has not caused me major disruption (and I have actually appreciated the unexpected, imposed gift of time), my teenaged grandchildren will be experiencing even greater losses of school, sports, activities, and friendships this fall. (This is not to overlook or minimize far greater suffering that the virus is causing around the world, but it is how it has touched my family.)
I regularly and fervently pray for my grandchildren. I often pray for God's best for their health, wellbeing, and growth in character. So why aren't my prayers for what I consider to be for their good being answered? James encourages us to ask God for good things:
James 4:2b – Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. (NLT)
And Matthew verifies that a prayer of faith is effective:
Matthew 21:22 – Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. (NRSV)
Using his own real-life example, which seems to contradict these verses, Paul said that that he prayed repeatedly for relief from a personal issue (probably a physical ailment), only to receive a "no" answer. But he clarified God's reason for answering "no". This can help us, too.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 – To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (NIV)
God's answer was "no". God gave Paul his infirmity to keep him from becoming conceited, and it came as a test from Satan. God then chose not to remove Paul's thorn, but rather to use Paul's weakness to display His power.
Dr. Garry Friesen, a Bible professor at a college in Rwanda, once said, "When God answers a prayer 'yes', it shows His power. When He answers 'no', it shows His wisdom." Accepting God's "no" when it isn't what we'd choose is a way of acknowledging that He knows far better than we do what is best for us.
How much better it is for us to trust God to answer our prayers as He knows best, than to become bitter and resentful when He answers "no".
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, give us grace to accept Your "no" answers as readily as we thank You for Your "yes" answers to prayer. May we be as thankful for Your wisdom as we are for Your power. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "We've A Story To Tell To The Nations" (Lyrics)