Receiving a No answer can be a test of trust. Do you still trust the Lord even when you did not get what you want? Do you still trust the Lord even when He does not reveal His reasons to you? Do you still trust that His plans are better than yours? The hardest part about receiving a No answer is enduring all the unresolved questions that we have in our hearts. Sometimes, we may not admit it, but deep inside we may even feel betrayed and hurt by the Lord.
But you know what? Someday, when we finally understand God's reasons for saying No, we will start thanking Him for those seemingly unanswered prayers. Maybe the reason will not be clear at first or even a few years later. In fact, maybe it will never be clear in this lifetime! But here's what we need to remember.
Do you know the story of Balaam and the talking donkey found in the book of Numbers chapter 22? Balaam was tasked by the King of Moab to curse the Israelites. The Lord already told him not to do it. But he was persistent and he went anyway. While on his journey, his donkey saw an angel of the Lord with a sword on his hand. The donkey suddenly stopped and turned off the road. Balaam started to beat the donkey several times for he did not see what the donkey was seeing. He did not see the angel in front of them. After several beatings to get the donkey back to the right path, the donkey started to talk. Yes, seriously! The donkey said to Balaam "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" Then the Lord opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in front of them with his sword. And this was what the angel told him "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it"
Divine Detours often get us to where God wants us to go
Many times, what may seem like a No answer to us only means that God has a better answer for us. He gets in the way to show us the way.
Remember the time when the Egyptian army was chasing the Israelites? They were already at the border of the Red Sea and they can see an angry army charging after them. They cried out to Moses, their leader. But the Lord's instruction to them was to just stand still and stay calm. When you're at a dead end in the midst of charging army, probably the most difficult thing to do is to stand still and stay calm. But that's what the Lord asked of them. And as most of us know, a few minutes before the Egyptians got to them, the Lord parted the Red Sea.
Keep Calm and Be Still
Wait for it. His deliverance is coming.
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During our weekend family movie time, we have both kids with us so we need to ensure the movie that we will be watching will be appropriate for our four-year old yet still entertaining for our seven-year old. Common Sense Media allows you to filter through a given age range. In my case I always set it to 4 to 7 so that it covers the ages of both my children.
Story 1: Luke 18: 1-5
One day Jesus told his disciples of a story to show that they should always pray and not give up. "There was a judge in a certain city," he said, "who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, 'Give me justice in this dispute with the enemy.' The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, 'I don't fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'"
In standardized math tests, Japanese children consistently score higher than their American counterparts. While some assume that a natural proclivity toward mathematics is the primary difference, researchers have discovered that it may have more to do with effort than ability. In one study involving first-graders, students were given a difficult puzzle to solve. The researchers weren’t interested in whether or not the children could solve the puzzle; they simply wanted to see how long they would try before giving up. The American children lasted, on average, 9.47 minutes. The Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes. In other words, the Japanese children tried 47 percent longer. Is it any wonder why they score higher on math exams? Researchers concluded that the difference in math scores might have less to do with intelligence quotient and more to do with persistence quotient. The Japanese first-graders simply tried harder.
Now do these stories tell us? Success is, more often than not, a product of persistence. In the story of the persistent widow, the Bible was silent on what sort of injustice took place. Maybe her son was falsely imprisoned or maybe a man who molested her daughter was still walking free. Whatever injustice she was facing, it is apparent that the widow will not stop until the judge grants her the justice she is looking for. That is what makes her a circle maker.
In my previous post, i talked about dreaming big and praying bold prayers. Now here's the question we need to answer. How desperate are we for God to fulfill those dreams? How many times are you willing to lift that request up in prayer? How long are you willing to wait?
e all know that God is sovereign and the answers to our prayers do not depend on us. Ultimately, the answer will still be God's decision. But it is also up to us to show the Lord how serious we are with our request.
Pray like it depends on God (because it really does!)
In 1 Kings 18: 41-46, the Bible talked about a story of drought. Very similar to Honi's story. Elijah went up to Mount Carmel to pray for rain. After each prayer, he would ask his servant to go and look out toward the sea and check for rain. When there was still no sign of rain, Elijah would pray again. He did this for seven times before God sent a terrific rainstorm.
This story reminded me of a story I previously shared about the Jericho Wall. The Israelites had to circle the wall of Jericho for seven days before they were able to break through the wall conquer the promised land. Similarly, there was no tangible difference after Elijah prayed for the first, second, third, until the sixth time. But he persisted until the Lord answered his request for rain after his seventh prayer. Just like the Israelites, Elijah would have forfeited the miracle had he stopped praying on the sixth time.
Now in my prayer list, there are big and small items. I have a few friends who tell me that they only pray the big-ticket items so that God is no longer bothered by the smaller ones. Here's the next point that i want to share with you.
The bible said that there is no sparrow that falls to the ground that the Lord does not know about. I recently found out that the maya bird is a type of sparrow. I guess the reason why the Lord used a sparrow to explain this point is because there are just a lot of sparrows in the world. With all the seemingly more important world events, can you imagine why God would even bother knowing each one of the sparrow?
A few weeks ago, our Pastor shared something with us that made me understand God's heart more. The Bible says that the hairs on our head are numbered. The Lord did not say they are counted, but that they are numbered. This means that when a hair falls, the Lord does not say "Minus 1 hair from Fan's head", the Lord will say "Hair #2546 has just fallen". Our hairs are numbered.
Isn't it amazing how God is into the details of our lives? There is nothing too big for him and yet there is also nothing too small for Him. The Lord listens to all our concerns. May it be our parenting struggles, healing from a serious illness, career choice, or finding the love of our life. The Lord is interested in all of them.
I urge all of you to pray through the tough times and not give up. Because, who knows? You may just be a prayer away from the miracle you have been waiting for.