When God Says “No” But Really Means “Yes”

by Andy Wood on November 24, 2015

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase, Tense Truths

Disappointment Prayer

“If only I could see them again.”

Night and day he thought about that.

Obsessed about it.

Prayed and prayed and prayed for it – night and day and night and day.

“Please, God, let me see them again.”

God had other plans.

Again, he asked – night and day and night and day, he asked.

Please God, let me see them again.”

God had other plans.

I should point out that as well as anybody can know the motives of the heart, his intentions were honorable. He didn’t want any of their money. He wasn’t fishing for a stroke to his ego. He wasn’t needy or, best I can tell, all that lonely. But he was anxious, if not desperate, for more face time with these people.

Why?

Because on their last encounter, there were some missing pieces that were left hanging. And these people were in a vulnerable spot. They just needed more time together, and he knew if only he could get back there, his concerns could be resolved. It would be a win-win for everybody. Couldn’t the Lord see that?

Apparently not. He had… well, you know.

Anchoring Your Heart to the “Why”

Can you relate?

Have you ever felt something so strongly, so urgently, that you desperately cried out to God to make something happen? Only to be handed an obvious “no?”

Doesn’t God want to give you the desires of your heart? At least the ones that aren’t selfish, consumer-type prayers (see James 4:3). Aren’t we challenged by no less than Jesus to ask, seek, and knock – and promised that we would receive, find, and have doors opened?

So what’s with the closed doors, delays, and disappointments?

I don’t know if this is the answer to every situation, but it certainly speaks to many of mine. Sometimes I have a legitimate desire – an unselfish (yes, it really happens sometimes) longing to see something happen. That becomes my “why” for praying.

But it doesn’t become my “what.”

Instead, I imagine a scenario for how God may respond to that request and ask for the scenario. To be honest, the main reason I do that is because in my limited imagination it’s the only way I can see God actually doing what I want Him to do. But here’s the catch: often I get so lost in asking for the scenario, I lose sight of the ultimate desire.

Turns out I’m in some pretty good company, and maybe you are, too. That person who was doing all that night-and-day praying was none other than the Apostle Paul. And he was praying for the opportunity to return to the site of one of his special connections – the Macedonian city of Thessalonica. Here is how he expressed that sentiment to them:

For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10).

The Back Story

This was no codependent “need to be needed.” Paul had warned these fledgling believers that hard times were coming, and the hard times came. They were shaken in their faith, and he was beyond concerned for them. He knew if he could just get back there, everything would be OK.

But God had other plans.

So Paul went to “Plan B,” which seemed to fit God’s ultimate intention: He sent Timothy, his young protégé.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking… I thought the same thing too…

Timothy! No, Paul! It’s too soon! He’s too unproven! The stakes are too high! He’s a fine young man and all, and I’m sure he has a great future in store, but not here! Not now! Not under these circumstances! This isn’t just the B-team, it’s the untested rookie.

Seriously? Timothy? Mister soft-touch, raised-by-Mama Timmy? Sent to preserve and protect these believers against a massive assault from the minions of hell?

That’s the best you’ve got?

But wait.

Now Timothy has returned, and he has come with staggering, breathtaking good news. He tells Paul how the faith of these believers had grown substantially since Paul had left them. He tells him of their steadfast hope and abounding love.

Timothy’s message: God has answered your prayer, even without sending you back.

The Lesson

Even trailblazing, world-shaking apostles can learn some things. Paul is writing them out of the joy of his heart. He was rejoicing – not because he got what he wanted for his benefit, but his rejoicing was “before our God on your account.” In a spiritual and identification sense, he entered into their blessing and celebrated God’s favor on them.

A beautiful thought.

As you are counting your blessings and thanking God (since God is the one doing the work), how about thanking Him for what He’s doing in somebody else? Celebrate His hand of blessing and His transforming work in the lives of other believers – particularly believers that you have personally invested in.

The Thessalonians were an answer to Paul’s prayer, even though God did it in a way other than the way Paul had imagined.

Paul’s ultimate aim was that the Thessalonians may “complete what was lacking in their faith.” God answered his prayer, in glorious fashion, NOT by responding to Paul’s scenario, but to Paul’s ultimate aim.

God gave him the “why” without delivering on the “what.” He had other plans for making it happen – plans that involved maturing a new young leader and multiplying His kingdom.

What do you do when God gives you the desire of your heart, but not the scenario of your mind?

You thank Him.

Maybe it’s time to recast some of your apparent disappointments. Maybe it’s time to see them in light of God’s faithfulness to give you the ultimate aim of your request, not just the external changes or scenarios you want.

And about those things you keep asking God for and not seeing any movement… Maybe it’s time to drill down to the “why” of your request. What do you really want? And is it OK with you if the God of Heaven satisfies that desire in ways you could never have imagined?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando November 24, 2015 at 1:07 pm

God may not answer our “scenarios,” yet He is always working diligently in matters of the heart. This is a terrific lesson for us all today, Andy. Blessings!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..I’m Thankful

Robin Salvador December 1, 2015 at 6:16 pm

I learned that God has three answers, it’s either yes, no or wait! But when God says wait, God teaches us to have a heart of trusting Him of His plans.

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