“No” is an Answer

“Yes” is a much easier answer. We can see the tangible benefits of a positively answered prayer; we can point to that answer as a testimony of praise. “See this healing. See this financial miracle. God did that.”

But God does “no” as well.

A recent survey found that 78% of Evangelicals pray daily, but only 29% say that their prayers are answered daily. I wonder if the other 71% consider those times when God gives a “no.” It’s an answer . . . and a good one. Most of the time it’s just hard to swallow.

“No” doesn’t mean we’re wrong; it means God’s right. Our myopic vision tends to miss the millions of interacting parts of this thing we call life. God knows our thoughts, motivations, and future. We just know what we want to see happen—and not always even that.

Jesus got a “no” and gratefully acquiesced. He took the cup given to Him.

Don’t take “no” as “no answer.”

Mistake Obsession

We’re a country obsessed with mistakes. Flubbed song lyrics find prime real estate on news websites and blogs; political speech slip-ups become Twitter fodder for years. If a public personality makes a snafu, a camera probably recorded every syllable.

Given my propensity to bungle a line or two in personal conversation (foot-in-mouth genes run deep in my family), I’d hate to imagine a camera-touting interloper capturing every single one. No need to play those over and over.

As I’ve been studying the book of Job, I’ve found this same obsession with mistakes. Job’s friends, instead of comforting him in his misery, ask him to think back and figure out what he did wrong. They mourn with him, but they don’t offer a single tissue or back scratch or anything.

They’re too worried about being right.

And that reminds me too much of me. When people I know face problems, my mind often zips back over the past to dig up the things that may be “causing” these problems. I want to justify the reason for their suffering.

But that’s not how it works. The man born blind wasn’t that way because he deserved it—he was that way to show God’s ability to spark synapses and make eyes work.