When God Says No
by Joanne Ellison

I have been reading a terrific book by Lee Strobel titled The Case for Faith. Perhaps some of you have read his first bestseller book Case for Christ. Strobel was a journalist for the Chicago Tribune and as an atheist tried to prove that God did not exist.

I have discovered that one of the primary reasons people are unable to believe in God is because there is so much suffering in the world. Having all experienced this past year of the pandemic with many deaths and loss, I feel certain that some people who have not put their faith in Christ, are left without hope and perhaps are bitter and angry. Perhaps it reinforces their view that if God is good and there is so much suffering, then He must not exist or that He doesn’t care. But the truth is there are also Christ followers who question the goodness of God in the face of suffering. There are also Christ followers who do not know what to do when God seems silent. Today we are looking at the question:

What do you do when God says no? 

Lost dreams, broken relationships, job stress and crying out to God, all you hear is the answer no. I have written a 4 week mini study on this if any of you are interested in exploring this further. However for today’s blog, I want to focus on why some people respond with trusting God’s goodness and His no, and others feel defeated and unloved. The key is in getting to know the Good Shepherd; the One who leads you to green pastures and to still peaceful waters.

Shepherds take their time to explore land to find the best pastures for their sheep. They make sure they have water source and they apply oil to their heads so that worms will not crawl up into their nose. If the larvae lay eggs and they get into the sheep’s nose and travel, the sheep will beat their heads against a rock. This is where we get the expression “beating our heads against a rock” when we have difficult situations. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and he keeps watch over them at night to insure that predators do not attack. When a sheep is lost he goes out and searches for him. They are under his care.

Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd. And just like a shepherd, He may not give His sheep what they want, but He will give them what He knows that they need. The sheep may wander and fall down into a rut. In this state, if undiscovered, the sheep could end up upside down and gas may fill their bellies causing them to be unable to get out of the rut due to the build up of gas in their rumen. If not found within a short period of time, will die. The shepherd makes sure He keeps an eye on them guiding them to stay within safe boundaries and pulling them out of a rut if needed.

Sometimes God says no to us. We want what we want and we think we know what is best for us. But God, who loves us so much sent us His very best– His Son to sacrifice His life for us. While on earth, Jesus, the exact image of God, showed us the love of the Father. As the Good Shepherd He taught His disciples His ways. He told them they too would suffer and that His kingdom offered safe boundaries no matter what would happen to them. Judas, His betrayer, left the safety of Christ to fill his pockets with gold. Thomas doubted that the disciples had seen Jesus alive. Peter denied Him. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd led them back.

Knowing that God is good and did not withhold His very best, His Son, helps us to accept when He says no. The problem is when we don’t really know Him. We only know about Him. Did you know that you can study scripture and not know Him intimately as the Good Shepherd? Jesus told the Pharisees that they studied the scriptures searching things out diligently, but they completely missed Jesus.  And yet Jesus was the Living Word. 

You study the scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39-40)

I am disappointed when God says no even though I love Jesus dearly. It is only when I turn to Him with my disappointment and hand it to Him reminding myself that when God says no He does this as the Good Shepherd protecting and leading me to a greater yes. He is the Alpha and Omega and knows the beginning from the end seeing what is best for his children under His care.

So today if God is telling you to ask Him to reveal Himself as the Good Shepherd and follow Him up the mountain to what is known as the “messa” — the tabletop where the pastureland is the very best.  Ask Him to lead you beside still waters where your peace will be restored. In surrendering to His protection and care, what seems like a harsh no becomes a better yes.

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