When God Answers “No”

I have a confession.

I hate those songs and cheesy sayings about God’s unanswered prayers.

I fully believe that God answers every single prayer, but it’s a matter of our receptiveness as to whether we really listen or not.

Sometimes the answer is simply no.

Sometimes the answer is not yet.

Sometimes the answer is that God wants us to pursue Him more, or wait patiently on him where we’re at.

But he doesn’t not answer.

My health is something I’ve become very insecure about. Chronic, long-term issues have been a point of pain for years now, and even when I try to convince myself that I’m okay with it I find myself repeatedly broken-hearted over my physical deficiencies. Even the hurt of chronically missing out, saying no, or rescheduling because I physically can’t do something has caused me to put up some walls that, in all honesty, shouldn’t even be there.

I usually am in one of three places: sick, bracing myself to be sick soon, or cautiously healing.

I’ve continually prayed for physical healing for my body for about 7 years. It’s often difficult for me to believe that God will bring healing to my situation; even so I haven’t lost hope. But for the longest time, I have told God “you know, I trust you, but if you would heal me I would trust you more.” I’ve put conditions on my belief that God can really provide.

I’m going through a leadership course with our college ministry and we are going through a book that practically (and sometimes bluntly) walks us through biblical principles. Most of it consists of basics that you’ve read multiple times already if you’ve been a Christ follower very long, but it helps you dive into the Word intentionally and lets you see the bigger picture in different topics throughout the Bible. A few nights ago, I came across a section about knowing the cost of being a disciple and being willing to give up everything to follow Jesus. Then it asked this question:

“What have you given up in order to be a disciple?”

God instantly showed me that my outlook was all wrong. I’d been holding onto my health as something I wasn’t really willing to give up in order to follow him. It’s as if I was giving God a majority of my life but holding onto that one piece. I just couldn’t seem to let go of it. Even when I leave it at the altar, I sometimes pick it back up, bearing all the weight of it again.

I continually find myself pestering God about how long I’ll be sick, when I’ll be healed, or why I’m suffering. But, if I’m being transparent, my need to understand “why” is just an indication of my lack of trust. To give something up to God, to truly leave it at the altar, I have to give it to him and then leave it alone. If I repeatedly question God’s reasoning or timing on the same issue, there’s no evidence that I’ve really let go of anything at all.

My mindset had to change from “I’ll trust you more when…” to “even if not, I’ll trust you now.”

This doesn’t mean that I’ve just laid down and accepted my fate to be chronically ill. This just means that until I experience healing, I will continue to trust that it is better that he is in control. I wait expectantly for the day that I see physical healing in my life, but in the “not yet” I surrender to patience in the Lord.

 

Abby Shrewsbury


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