PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• If you read regularly, you know that I always struggle with a post on holidays. I feel obligated to write about said holiday and yet, the non-conformist in me wants to rebel and avoid the topic. Especially for a holiday like Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong—I love everything that Thanksgiving stands for, but how many other writers are queuing up to write or post about thankfulness today (and for the past week)? Don’t you want to read something different? Well—my attitude about writing has always been “if I am interested in writing it, hopefully, others will enjoy reading it.” So with all that said—let’s take a different kind of look at gratitude. Today, let’s thank God for all the things we DON’T have.
Have you ever begged, pleaded, and prayed to God and His answer was so clearly a no, but you couldn’t understand why? And then—one day, it’s like the light bulb turned on. Finally, you understood all too well why He didn’t let that other relationship work out; why He said no to that dream job; why the offer you made on that amazing house was rejected; why He said no to those situations when you so badly wanted a heavenly yes.
Jesus said, “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11 ESV). On the surface, and out of context, it seems that God should be doling out yes’s with reckless abandon!
Insert an Oprah moment… “You get a car! And you get a car! And you, and you, and you get a car!” And at the same time, “You get additional taxes and maintenance fees! You get a speeding ticket! You get a vehicle that is impractical for your lifestyle!”
We have to accept responsibility here. Sometimes, the bread we’re reaching for is a stone. Sometimes, the fish we’re asking for is a serpent. And God is too good a Father to say yes to something that isn’t good for us. Our Heavenly Father will generously give good things to us, but He will also withhold the things that 1) aren’t good for us, 2) will pull us away from Him, and/or 3) don’t align with the plans He has for our lives.
Sometimes the greatest blessings in our lives are the ones when God said no. And when He says no, we need to praise Him with gratitude anyway. When we thank God and trust Him with His no’s as much as we do when He says yes, we keep the path to His better plan cleared and open.
Today, as you pray, look around all you have to be thankful for. But take a moment to thank God for the things you don’t have. Even if you haven’t had your lightbulb moment of clarity. Thank Him that the plans He has are infinitely better than you can ever imagine. In the middle of all He’s said yes to, thank Him for the no’s. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you accept the no’s as a part of a bigger picture you haven’t seen yet.