And we know That God casues everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”Romans 8:28 ESV
We hate the word “NO.” Admit it! It’s okay, I do too at times, especially when it’s from God. We tend to split God’s character in half: we have the loving, gentle side that provides all of our heart’s desire versus the angry, jealous God of the old testament, who’s kicking butt and taking names. While God is both jealous and can be angered, He remains loving. He is all at all times, so even his anger is filled with a just love that flies beyond our comprehension. The blessing of “no” is beyond our desires and feeds directly into our needs and while we are frustrated with the restrictions, we are saved from the destruction of unawareness in our greed. ( That line was nice, and you know it!) The older I get, the more appreciative I am of the “No’s” my parents threw at me left and right. The love they had to disrupt my schedule for my good beyond my understanding speaks volumes and I’m grateful. This only reflects the graciousness of God’s divine fatherhood to close as many doors as he opens even as much as it sucks to deal with it.
What was that story again??
I was trying to think of a story from the Bible to illustrate the blessing of a “no”; stories where God’s “no” saved the day. During my time of reflection, the only stories that came to mind, besides God saying “No” to the Egyptians when He closed the red sea while they chased after the Israelites, every other example of God’s “No’s” seems inconvenient and seemingly harsh. Here are the examples that come to mind: When God killed Uzzah for touching the ark of the covenant (Although Uzzah was trying to stop it from falling in 2 Sam. 6:6-8), When God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden after being obedient ( Gen. 3:23), God stopping Jonah from suicide to fulfill His purpose by having a whale swallow Him (The book of Jonah), God allows David’s first child with Bathsheba to die (2 Sam. 12:14-31), the time Paul and Silas are thrown in Jail and are beaten for casting out a demon from a young girl ( Acts 16:25-34), the death of Stephen and any other Martyr for that matter and don’t get me started on Jesus.
What does “No” offer us?
While I’d love to dive into each story and more to examine why each of God’s “no’s” was and remain justified, this post would become a Bible commentary. The thing with “No’s” is that they protect us from damaging ourselves, is punishment for disobedience or something/someone else. We love the word “no” when we discover what it has saved us from, but we’re offended when we discover what was saved from us or when we’ve committed a breach and correction is needed to fix what we’ve screwed up. Whether we’ve dropped the ball in our service to God like Uzzah, David, Adam, and, Jonah by setting our own judgments over God’s standards, we’re experiencing the protection of God in real-time or hindsight or we’re mistreated while working on behalf of God, His “No’s” are just as powerful and mighty as His “Yes’s”.
I’ll be the first to say that some of these “NO” situations don’t seem fair; For example, those that were beaten and killed for sharing the gospel and facilitating the miracle of Christ but even in horrible moments such as these, there is divine wisdom at work beyond our reach. Just because we don’t understand it, like it, or support it doesn’t mean it’s unethical according to God’s standards. When My father died some years back, I did;t realize until much later that his strict rules were protection. Yes, it felt as if dad’s sole achievement in life was to suck the enjoyment out of life at every turn but I heard a quote that described what he was trying to do perfectly, it says: “Sometimes we think a fence was built to keep us out when in reality it was a guardrail keeping us from falling off of the edge. Think about how many fences you’ve become offended by and in your attempt to jump it, destroy it or build a bigger one, you realized later that you hadn’t grown tall enough to see over the fence at the time and felt threatened at its construction. Thank God for His “no’s” because sometimes, they’re assigned to do things His “yes’s” weren’t.