There I sat, cuddling my oldest daughter as she sobbed disappointed tears into her pillow. Sitting in the minivan that night as we drove home, she had suddenly realized that God wasn’t going to make her a fairy tale princess when she grows up.
Her little life dream had been dashed.
After her sad announcement, my husband tried to shout back persuasive logic to her from the front seat, explaining that princesses don’t really live such great lives. They can’t choose where to go, what to eat, how to dress, or even who to marry.
Somehow the lack of freedom was overshadowed by Disney ballgowns, glass slippers and tiaras. And so after the pajamas were on, the teeth brushed, the prayers prayed, there we sat in her bed and she cried and we talked about feeling disappointed.
How life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect.
How sometimes we can’t have what we really want.
How movies and fairy tales rarely represent the reality of life.
How it’s hard to trust God when He tells us, “no,” but that we need to leave our future in His hands.
How our job is to work hard to develop the gifts He’s given and His job is to direct and guide our service.
No matter how you chat and philosophize sometimes, though, disappointment hurts. For a while, we can hope that despite all odds, God is going to miraculously give us what our hearts desire.
But it doesn’t always happen that way and that’s the truth.
Sometimes God says, “no.” He may do it so gently and with grace, and it’s not because He hates us or wants to see us sob ugly tears on our pillows.
In most cases, He does it for the same reason I tell my child “no” she can’t wear her favorite skirt that is now too short for her, “no” she can’t have cookies and milk at 5:30 p.m. as I’m dishing up dinner on the table, “no” she can’t watch that movie even if her friends have all seen it, “no” she can’t have a cellphone and laptop for first grade. “No” is for people we love enough to protect.
Then there are other cases where the “no” is so He can be glorified and our faith refined. In Beth Moore’s study, Daniel, she notes that there are always three scenarios:
- God delivers us from the fire.
- God delivers us through the fire.
- God delivers us by the fire into His arms.
For the three men who refused to bow down to the towering image of King Nebuchadnezzar, there was no question of whether God could keep them out of the furnace that was blazing in front of them. They declared:
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
They had to go through the fire, but Christ showed up in all His magnificent glory and walked them right on out of there. God said, “no, I won’t deliver you from the fire, but I’ll take you through.”
For others of you, God has said, “no” and it’s not clear why. Maybe we’ll never know the reason this side of eternity. You can’t see how this is protection. You can’t see how He is being glorified. Maybe it’s disappointing, this waiting for the healing or rescue that doesn’t ever seem to come.
Have you ever wondered how Stephen did it, the first martyr in the church, the first one to take stand up for Christ to the death? Were he and his friends disappointed that God didn’t rescue him from the riotous Sanhedrin? Were they waiting for the earth to open up and swallow the mob now raising their stones in murderous rage?
How disappointed and confused did they feel as God didn’t deliver Stephen from or through the onslaught of rocks, but instead delivered him home to heaven? There was no last-minute rescue or miraculous intervention.
Acts 7:6-7 says:
At that point they went wild, a rioting mob of catcalls and whistles and invective. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, hardly noticed—he only had eyes for God, whom he saw in all his glory with Jesus standing at his side. He said, “Oh! I see heaven wide open and the Son of Man standing at God’s side!” (MSG).
Stephen “hardly noticed” the deafening noise of those about to kill him because “he only had eyes for God.”
Whatever disappointments we face, a fairy tale dream that never came true, a furnace God asks us to walk through, a definitive “no” instead of miraculous intervention, we are victorious by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Just like Stephen. Just like Jesus Himself looked to His Father as He suffered painfully on the cross for our sake.
We’re not looking at the enemy, the storm or the overwhelming circumstances. We’re not looking at the hoped-for miracle or the anticipated rescue. We’re looking at Jesus “standing at God’s side,” knowing that even when God chooses not to give us what we want or hope for, He never leaves nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King