Undoubtedly, as you have walked with Christ
through the years, you feel that God has withheld things from you. This is often times best articulated by thinking that God has said “No” to a particular prayer request or desire that you have. With the passage of time and the gaining of perspective, you also undoubtedly are thankful that God didn’t grant you some of your desires! But, more somberly, perhaps you have wondered why God did not answer a prayer that you felt was very important and significant. At least twice in past years, I can recall times where God said “No” to what I felt were great ministry opportunities. Again, looking back, I can see why He said “No” to one of them, but still wonder at His purposes at saying “No” to the other. You can probably very well relate to such occasions in your own life and times with Christ.
One of the great comforts and encouragements of our life with Christ is to know that Christ can understand all of our sadness, temptations and difficulties firsthand. He came and walked among us and knows the difficulties of living in a fallen world. The writer to the Hebrews makes this very clear, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (4:15). Jesus knows and understands all that we go through and this does provide great comfort for us. The writer continues in verse 16, encouraging us that in light of Christ’s sympathy, we should “…with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,…”
One of the more compelling questions about God and Christ is this, “Was Jesus ever refused a prayer request by God his Father?” Our quick reaction to this would be to say “No way!” How could the perfect Son of God ever be refused anything from His Father? All of his requests would be pure and right and holy. How could God the Father ever refuse anything the Son asked? And yet, in the Garden of Gethesemane, this is exactly what happens. Jesus, in great agony, goes to His Father in prayer and beseeches Him, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” (Luke 22.42) Of course, the cup that Jesus desires to have removed is the upcoming events of the crucifixion where Jesus will bear the sins of mankind, experience extreme physical agony and, much more trying, separation from His Father. The text does not mention any verbal response from God the Father, but we know that the answer to this request was “No”.
Friends, as hard as some refusals from God may be, you will never experience a “No” like this one. Words fail when trying to describe the interactions between God the Father and God the Son in these events. Indeed, the heavenly transactions occurring in these hours are beyond our mortal minds to comprehend, even though we live and rejoice in the implications and results of these hours. Thus, when you sense from God a refusal of something you desire, you would do well to look back into the Garden of Gethesemane and meditate upon this “No”. God’s love for Jesus never ceased. His affection for him never faltered. Indeed, God’s heart broke in ways we’ll never know as He forsook His own Son. Again, you will never experience a “No” like this.
Thus, when you are sensing a refusal from God about any particular issue or desire, the God-glorifying response is also found in Luke 22:42, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Bring to mind that God is sovereignly overseeing even the perceived “No’s” that He puts in your life. Your desire is for His perfect will, not your own. Thus, trust God when the “No” comes and declare with Jesus your desire for His glory and will and not your own. Jesus can indeed sympathize with your “No”. His “No” was of a far greater magnitude than anything you and I will ever experience.
Sola Deo Gloria!