A Note from Kelly King: None of us like the word, “no.” We especially don’t like it when our prayers are answered “no.” But when we may not understand the “no,” we can still trust in the character of God. Deb Douglas continues her series on “Ministering in the Messy” and describes ways we can continue to trust in the God who see the bigger picture.
Life gets messy when God doesn’t move the mountain we have faithfully prayed for Him to move. Doubts storm in, taking over our thoughts and wiggling into our souls. We have faithfully prayed. We have believed. But the loved one still dies, the husband still cheats, the child remains a prodigal, the man of our dreams doesn’t appear, or another pregnancy test is negative.
God says no.
Our grain of faith the size of a mustard seed was not enough.
At least, that’s what we hear screaming in our ears.
I waited for God to send 10,000 angels and hear my cries. I had prayed with every ounce of mustard-seed sized faith within me. But no angels appeared. I was stunned.
I had no clue as to how to go on when God’s answer was no—when His plan was radically different than mine. In that moment, I understood the sovereignty of God. I could not change the reality of the moment. I could only accept God’s no as my reality. It took crying out to God, breathing in healing Scriptures, and time to work to a place of accepting God’s plan as best.
And it took something much harder: realizing that I did not want to manipulate God’s plan. That sometimes my prayers were actually attempts to control God. Crazy, right? But we all do it. Our desires become more important than the desire for God’s best. So we pray and make deals and try to justify that the only answer God would really, really want is our answer. We justify ourselves into blindness of our poor attempts to manipulate God’s plan.
But here’s the thing: our part of God’s plan is just one tiny part. We cannot always see the rest of the plan. We have to trust that God is always faithful.
Always at work for our best.
His way is always better.
No matter how painful and no matter how much we did not want His way, it is the best.
I was walking through a section of a busy airport. It was in the early morning hours after a long and stressful trip. In my tiredness, my OCD-ness was working overtime.
As I walked close to the wall, trying to pretend I really was not there, I noticed the tiles on the wall. What a mess! No pattern. No rhythm or reason. And horror of horrors, there were tiles missing! I needed to intervene. This was a disaster! I saw an airport employee across the corridor and decided it was my obligation to point out the messiness of the tiles. As I began my rant, I turned to face the wall. Instead of misplaced and missing tiles, I saw a mosaic. All those random tiles made sense, coming together into a work of art.
That’s how God’s plan works in us. Up close, we do not see the work of art. We see mismatched, missing, and random tiles of events, people, and losses. But God sees the mosaic of His handicraft at work in us, creating a beautiful masterpiece. God’s no in the midst of our messy lives is just one tile in His plan—a plan that is meant for His glory and our best!
When God says no, when His answer is not our plan but His, when He does not turn our earthly messiness into a cleaned up dream of our wishing, be patient. Trust Him. Know that what we experience as messiness, may be His artwork in progress.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
God has called Deb Douglas to make a difference in the world, one woman at a time. For over 39 years, Deb has served in women’s ministry. Now she spends her time ministering to women in the sex trade ministry and serving as the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Bossier City. Deb is a contributor to LifeWay’s All Access blog, a freelance writer, and an event speaker. Deb was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. Deb is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.