April 22, 2008

Horse 876 - When God Says No

The biggest question I have have the moment and and finding difficult to come to terms with is one of what happens if God says "No". It is a perfectly reasonable assumption to make that God has several answers that he can make to any given prayer: Yes, Wait, No, or something else.

Consider this:
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
- John 1:5-7

Now it's logical to assume that Zechariah and Elizabeth probably would have liked to have had children. In the first century BC it's not like there were any social security systems or superannuation, so in general, it would be assumed that your children would look after you in your old age (assuming you got there).

It's not a difficult thing to imagine the years of tearful requests this couple made to the Lord. Try to feel the pain and frustration each month when they realized their prayer had been rejected again. As the months turned into years, the prayers must have grown more and more desperate, for each year as the couple grew older, they knew their chances of having a child grew dimmer. Admittedly in verse 13 we're told that eventually the request was finally granted, and God's plan prevailed (with a son who would in time prepare the way for Christ himself).

This isn't a case of sin getting between Zechariah and Elizabeth and God. We are told that they were "upright in the sight of God". Clearly there must be some sort of other operation going on here. The other major principle is that we and indeed everything in the universe does not exist for our happiness but ultimately for God's glory.

Just as He did to these people God sometimes and will continue to say "no" to our prayers, if it suits His greater plan. Studying God’s "Nos" in other peoples’ lives though, is much easier than applying the lessons to our own. Ungranted prayers will always disappoint us and ultimately, the answer to a given prayer has little to do with yielded rights. That a right has been yielded does not mean that the matching need or desire will be met, any more than not yielding rights means that the need or desire will not be met.

Moses' "send someone else to do it", Elijah's "I have had enough, LORD, Take my life" and even Jesus' "Take this cup away from me" are all examples of prayer which had a definate "No" as the answer. Yup, even the only truly righteous person who ever lived was still given the answer of "No".

It just happens that at this moment, I'm being given the answer of "No".

1 comment:

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