When God Says No
Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. - (Acts 16:6-8, NLT)
Sometimes the Lord will step in and say no to even the most loving and carefully considered of our plans. There are many ways, of course, that God can stop or redirect us. Sometimes it’s through the warning of a respected friend. Sometimes it might be through a lack of peace in our lives. All of the circumstances might look just fine, but something inside us doesn’t feel quite right. We have a lack of peace about it.
We’re told in the book of Colossians that we should let the peace of God settle with finality all matters that arise in our minds (see Colossians 3:15). If we’re starting to do something or go somewhere and sense a lack of God’s blessing on that plan, we need to learn to stop and seek His peace and His desire for our lives.
God also can redirect us through simple circumstances. The car won’t start. A particular door won’t open. A check won’t clear. A flight is delayed. An illness comes. Has it happened to you? You had plans in a certain direction, and God stepped in and said, “No. That isn’t what I had in mind for you at this time. I have another plan.” You may have wanted to go into the ministry, and instead God called you into business. Or perhaps you had prepared yourself for a career in business, and God called you into ministry! You have wanted to be married, but God called you to be single. Or perhaps you were sure you would be single, but then He dropped someone into your life out of the blue. You may have wanted a large family, but you had a small family — or no children at all.
Sometimes things turn out differently than what we had imagined or planned. Ultimately, however, our lives belong to Him, not to ourselves. And His plans, even when they seem difficult, are the very best plans for this life and the next.
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When God doesn’t make sense, when it seems that He is asleep, when it feels like He doesn’t care, we must remind ourselves of His promises. Going back to God’s promises, we find something that we desperately need in those hard times: perspective.
That eternal perspective is the focus of Dr. James Dobson’s book When God Doesn’t Make Sense, which we’re offering as a thank-you to anyone who gives a gift of support to Harvest Ministries this month.