When God Says “No”

How do we respond when the Lord’s answer is “No”?

When we struggle with relationships, problems, finances, illness, or see a loved one slowly slipping into the deepening shadow of Alzheimer’s?

My sister suffers from schizophrenia. Diagnosed decades ago, I long prayed for healing only to watch her symptoms worsen.

There are so many stories in Scripture about Jesus healing, providing for needs. Why does He say “No”?

With time we realize the “no” to some of our most fervent prayers was a “yes” in disguise: a “yes” to a bigger blessing; a “yes” of protection;  a “yes” that provides peace.

But then there are the no’s that don’t have a discernable reason. What do we do with those?

In the Book of Acts we read the story of Stephen, “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 6:5, CSB). Stephen was chosen along with several other men to serve the needs of the Hebraic widows (Acts 6:1). He was also “performing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).

Some opposed Stephen, but his opposition was “unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking…” (Acts 6:10). So they persuaded some men to falsely claim they heard Stephen speak “‘blasphemous words’” (Acts 6:11).

Stephen was taken before the Sanhedrin who believed the false testimony (Acts 6:13). In response, Stephen spoke truth reviewing the history of the Jews (Acts 7).

The Sanhedrin and their followers were not happy. Enraged, they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death (Acts 7:57-59).

Scripture doesn’t say, but I have to believe there were some faithful followers earnestly praying for Stephen’s safe release.

But the answer was no.

No to prayers for the release of a faithful, Spirit-filled man who spent his life serving God’s people.

Inexplicable “no’s” are part of the “secret things [that] belong to the Lord our God…” (see Deu 29:29, NASB). They seem to defy His mercy and and human logic; we struggle trying to understand what we cannot comprehend.

In those times, our greatest hope, our peace, can only be found in choosing to trust the One Who loves us deeply and is working all things together for our good (see Romans 8:28).

Lord, help us choose to trust You even when we can’t understand.



© Debbie Lowe, Life Lessons from the Living Word, 2022.

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