When The Answer Isn’t What You Wanted

Have you ever asked a question and the answer was “no“? Or have you continually asked a question without ever getting a response? How about asking a question and not getting the answer you wanted? Any and all of those are frustrating. We think we know what we want, what we need, but sometimes the person we are asking knows better than we do. We don’t like these answers because it’s a barrier to what we want; what we think is the best for us. And not getting an answer? Well, that’s just discouraging.

“Some of God’s greatest mercies are in His refusals. He says no in order that He may, in some way we cannot imagine, say yes.” Elisabeth Elliot

How does that make sense?

God says no or wait because He knows all. He sees all. He knows what is healthy for us and what is not. He knows what protects us and what will harm us. God does not want harm to come to His beloved. Through closed doors, He has the opportunity to open others that we never could have dreamed of or even payed attention to if the one we believe we wanted was open. And when we feel like He’s not listening, that He’s gone silent and perhaps ignoring us, rest assured He has not ignored you. He has indeed heard you.

“I call upon You, for You will answer me, O God; incline Your ear to me; hear my words.” Psalm 17:6 ESV

“In the morning, LORD, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3 NIV

No matter how He responds or when He responds, God has heard us. He has heard our cries and praises, our questions and our rejoices. But God works in ways we cannot comprehend. So when you’re frustrated with His answer or seemingly lack thereof, it’s for a purpose.

Job and David both understand praying to God, crying out with their questions, concerns, and getting responses that weren’t what they had hoped. Both of them had times when they had to wait to hear God’s reply; to see how He would answer their prayers. It may have seemed like He was ignoring them, but in fact, He was working.

“I cry to You for help and You do not answer me; I stand, and You only look at me.” Job 30:20 ESV

“Then Job answered the LORD and said: I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. … And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job 41:1-2, 10b ESV

“I call upon You, for You will answer me, O God; incline Your ear to me; hear my words.” Psalm 17:6 ESV

“Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping.” Psalm 39:12a NIV

“I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation.” Psalm 118:21 NIV

They couldn’t see it when they cried out, but God would and did answer their prayers, they simply had to wait. God restored to Job what had been taken and provided for his needs. He delivered David from his enemies and gave him great joy.

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now we don’t need now.” Elisabeth Elliot

Like I’ve said before, God knows what is best for us just as He knows what would destroy us. His “no“s are divine. His “wait“s are purposeful. His answers that are different than what we had asked for are specific. He knows when is the right time to answer our questions and prayers, and the best way to answer them, which sometimes is in a refusal.

“I called on Your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit; You heard my plea, ‘Do not close Your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on You; You said, ‘Do not fear!’ ” Lamentations 3:55-57 ESV

When God has appeared to have gone silent, know and believe that He has not ignored you. He has not walked away or turned His face. God is still by your side, even if it seems He’s gone. I know I’ve had many moments, especially in these past few years, where I have thought, “God, where have You gone? Have You heard me? Do You care to answer my cries?” God doesn’t owe me anything, but in His steadfast lovingkindness, He chooses to answer my prayers, to bestow His blessings, to guide me and keep me from harm. I just have to remember that no matter what is going on in my life and despite what His answer will be, He is all I need.

“I know now LORD, why You utter no answer. You are Yourself the answer. Before Your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” CS Lewis

A no is protection and when there is no response, not even a wait, the answer must be God Himself. Actually, when it comes down to it, all we ever need is Him. God is provision in full.

“God does not give answers. He gives Himself.” Frederick Buechner

I have many questions right now, ones I’ve been asking Him for months and even years, just as I’m sure you have, but in the end, He is the answer. He is the answer when I need comfort and peace. He is the answer when I feel unloved and lonely. He is the answer when I am lost and need guidance. He is the answer for my salvation. He is the answer when I need joy in the hardships. He is the answer.

He is all I ever need. He is all you ever need.

I may never understand how God operates. I may never know the reason behind the answers that He gives, but I know He is holy. He is divine. His answers are never just first-thought responses; they are particular and precise, with a unique intention behind each reply. God knows how the dominos fall in life and since He sees the outcome years from now to a prayer I prayed today, yesterday, five months or two years ago, I have to believe that He knows what He is doing.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

When the answer isn’t what you wanted, trust Him. God knows exactly what He is doing. He sees the grand canvas of our lives and knows just how to orchestrate the pieces of the puzzle. Never stop bringing your cares and concerns before Him just because it seems He hasn’t answered you yet or given a response you didn’t like. Trust Him. Trust His answer. Trust His timing.


 

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