“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me.” (Matthew 26:39 NLT)
Has God ever said “no” to you when you thought you were asking in complete faith and trust?
Have you ever prayed, agonizing in your spirit, begging God to take something: a pain, some form of suffering/sickness, from you or a loved one? What about something you wanted Him to give you? Healing? Provision? Job? Relationship? Something material? Or perhaps your prayer focused on something you were facing that you didn’t want to go through? There are times in the Bible when God has said “no.”
God generally answers prayer in one of three ways: Yes, No or Wait. Sometimes the answer comes quickly, but other times it comes over a long period of time. Today I’d like to look at why God answers “no,” and what that can mean.
The two examples that first came to mind were Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before His betrayal and arrest, and Paul, as he sought healing for a physical condition.
In Matthew 26 we get background information that led up to Jesus’ request to allow Him not to have to go to the Cross. For anyone who thinks what Jesus endured prior to and including what He experienced on the Cross was easy, think again. Most men wouldn’t have made it to a cross, they wouldn’t have survived the torture and torment Jesus had to endure before He was nailed to the Cross. But the most painful part of what caused Jesus’ suffering wasn’t physical.
Jesus alone could have had insight into what His sacrifice would entail. He alone would have known that when the sin of the world was placed on Him, His Father would have to turn His eyes away (see Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:46). Jesus had never in all eternity been separated from the Father for one millisecond. But Jesus also knew, if He failed to pay the penalty for sin, all mankind would be eternally lost, without hope, without a Savior.
Jesus didn’t die for His sins, He had none. He died for mine and yours. He traded His perfect life for every sin that has ever been or will ever be committed by anyone willing to receive His gift of forgiveness and eternal life by grace, and who will place their trust in His completed work on Calvary.
The other piece of this that I can’t prove Biblically but believe in my heart is true, is my conviction that had Jesus not been willing to accept God’s will and had made the decision not to move forward with God’s plan to be arrested, tortured, and crucified in our place, I believe God would have called a halt to the whole plan and rescued His Son without delay. Why do I believe that? Because no one, not even the totality of all creation, meant more to God than the life of His Son. If you doubt this, just ask yourself: “What if it was MY son?”
Mark 14:36 records the first word of Jesus’ prayer as “Abba.” “Abba” is a term of endearment. It can be compared with the words a child would use when they’re first learning to speak. Words like “dada” or “papa” or “daddy.” The picture that formed in my mind was of my son, when he was suffering from leukemia and my response if he’d asked me: “Papa, would you please take this cancer away?” Nothing would have prevented me from doing exactly what he asked if there was any possible way for me to do it.
God has unlimited resources as the Sovereign Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of everything that is. By His word He could have changed everything in Jesus’ circumstances in the twinkling of an eye, the same as He’ll change each of His children when Jesus returns. But because Jesus understood all of that, He was quick to add: “If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42 NLT) All praise to our glorious Savior for His willingness to allow God’s will to be done in and through His life, for us.
That’s just one time when God said “no.” Tomorrow we’ll look at why He sometimes says “no” to us.
Blessings, Ed 😊