From Max Lucado’s Experiencing the Heart of Jesus Bible study:
“There are times when the one thing you want is the one thing you never get. You’re not being picky or demanding; you’re only obeying his command to “ask God for everything you need” (Phil. 4:6). All you want is an open door or an extra day or an answered prayer, for which you will be thankful.
And so you pray and wait.
You pray and wait.
You pray and wait.
May I ask you an important question? What if God says no?
What if the request is delayed or even denied? When God says no to you, how will you respond? If God says, ‘I’ve given you my grace, and that is enough,’ will you be content?”
“You see, from heaven’s perspective, grace is enough. If God did nothing more than save us from hell, could anyone complain? If God saved our souls and then left us to spend our lives leprosy-stuck on a deserted island, would he be unjust? Having been given eternal life, dare we grumble at an aching body? Having been given heavenly riches, dare we bemoan earthly poverty?
Don’t get me wrong: God hasn’t left you with “just salvation.” If you have eyes to read these words, hands to hold this book, the means to own this volume, he has already given you grace upon grace. We can often lose ourselves in what we don’t have when we’re surrounded by blessings we’ve received by the minute. The vast majority of us have been saved and then blessed even more!
But there are those times when God, having given us his grace, hears our appeals, and says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Is he being unfair?
My daughter fell into a swimming pool when she was two years old. A friend pulled her to safety. The next morning in my prayer time, I made a special effort to record my gratitude in my journal. I told God how wonderful he was for saving her. As clearly as if God himself were speaking, this question came to mind: Would I be less wonderful if I had let her drown? Would I be any less a good God for calling her home? Would I still be receiving your praise this morning if I had not saved her?
Is God still a good God when he says no? Paul wrestled with the same question. He knew the angst of unanswered prayer. At the top of his prayer list was an unidentified request that dominated his thoughts. He gave the appeal a code name: “a thorn in my flesh” (2 Corn. 12:7) Perhaps the pain was too intimate to put on paper. Maybe the request was made so often he resorted to shorthand, “I’m here to talk about the thorn again, Father.” Or could it be that by leaving the appeal generic, Paul’s prayer could be our prayer? For don’t we all have a thorn in the flesh?”
“For all we know about thorns, we can be sure of this: God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut. And if it takes a thorn for him to make his point, he loves us enough not to pluck it out.
God has every right to say no to us. We have every reason to say thanks to him…
When we are hurting, it doesn’t matter how much we know about doctrine or theology. What we really need to know is Jesus. To walk with him. Talk to him. Crawl into his lap and let him hold us for a while. Perhaps we’ll never say, “Jesus is all I need” until he is all we have. At that moment, he will prove to be all we need and more.”