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How to Deal With It When God Says NO

Sometimes living with the tension is an act of faith.

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You prepared your plans with prayer. For many, many months. You even asked others to pray as well. As far as you can tell, you did everything right and with right motives. But still God said no

How to Deal With It When God Says NO

This just happened to me. Cathy and I just returned from a tour to Israel. It took more than a year to prepare for the tour, and part of our preparation included much prayer. Among other items, our prayer list contained two specifics:

  1. For good weather.
  2. For no one to get injured.

God said NO to both of these in the span of five minutes.

Our Slip’N Slide on the Mount of Beatitudes

On one of the first days of the tour, we planned to walk down a dirt road on the Mount of Beatitudes toward the Sea of Galilee. Along the way, we would stop and read part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The scenery looked lovely as the clouds rolled in.

Cool breezes. Laughter. It was a good feeling.

(Cue one of those storms the Sea of Galilee is famous for.)

We got about halfway down the slope when the floodgates of heaven opened and dumped gallons of water on all of us. As we made a dash for the lone tree, the rain soaked us to the bone as well as the dirt road we walked on. As it turns out, a mere five-minute deluge changed our gentle dirt slope into a dangerous Slip’N Slide (a toy appropriately manufactured by Wham-O).

After the rain cleared, we began to try to navigate the mud, and several people slipped and fell. One gentleman actually fell and broke his hip!

Good feeling gone.

Storm over the Sea of Galilee

(Photo: Storm over the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As you can imagine, this storm changed our plans for the day, and it changed this gentleman’s plans for the whole tour.

But wait. Didn’t we pray about this?

Your Plans (and God’s Plans for Your Plans)

Although it’s tempting for me to insert a rainbow after the storm and mention a few ways God blessed the situation and it turned out for good, I won’t.

Why not?

Because life doesn’t always justify the pain we experience. The good that results from bad things aren’t always clear, and they’re seldom immediate. Even those results we do see are only those we see—and not all of what God has in mind. 

We see only the tip of the iceberg. God sees Antarctica.

Living with the Tension When God Says NO

As created beings in a fallen world, we live with the constant tension of unanswered questions. We want to know why when God has said nothing to our prayers—and especially when God says NO to them. We seldom see satisfying answers to the whys of life.

Often I think we’re seeking answers in order to justify the whys when, if we think about it, we already have had the ultimate answer all along. 


  • HE is our answer.
  • HIS character is the justification we seek.
  • HIS wisdom is the reason we can feel satisfied in the midst of unsatisfying results or prayers that get a very clear NO. 

It all boils down to trust and remembering that life is rigged to demand that we live by faith in a good God who maintains His divine prerogative to say no.

Even when God says no He is ultimately saying yes. We don’t need to see the results to know it’s true.

Tell me what you think: How do you respond when God says no? To leave a comment, just click here.

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