Afew years ago, I applied for a work-from-home job. I really wanted the job–at least, I thought I did–and I was excited as my application passed through several phases of the acceptance process: resume, sample work, and then a phone interview.
Then I received the email: “Thanks for applying, but we’ve chosen someone else.”
When I read the rejection letter and a flood of relief washed through me, I was stunned.
Deep inside, in a place I’d not acknowledged, I hadn’t wanted the job! Between changing diapers, church responsibilities, and trying to keep a decent house, I could barely find time for the projects and dreams I already had. I didn’t want to add something else to my to-do list.
It got me to thinking about other times in my life I didn’t get things I’d longed–and even prayed–for. In retrospect, it’s easy to see some of the reasons God said no.
Reason #1: When something comes easily, you have no motivation to better yourself.
I’ve been working on a novel off and on pretty much . . . forever! I used to be SO frustrated that with each passing year, I had no completed manuscript to show, much less a published book. Over time though, I’ve realized that I have LOTS of growing to do as a fiction writer. I’d be humiliated if some of the stuff I wrote when I was nineteen was in print. It just wasn’t good writing.
No one is a master without training. Having to wait while we develop ourselves is part of the path to greatness. I would rather publish a stellar novel at the age of fifty-five than an embarrassingly mediocre one at age twenty-one.
Thankfully, when we pray, sometimes God says, “Wait till you’re ready.”
Reason #2: You want something that’s only going to make you miserable.
Remember that certain someone you wanted to marry in high school who skipped college and now makes a living robbing convenience stores? Yeah, me too. Thank the Lord He didn’t let that one work out!
I don’t think this point needs much clarification: often we want things that would only bring us harm.
Reason #3: God has something better for you.
When I moved to a new town after getting married, I thought I knew exactly where I should work and what position I should have there. I’d always been in banking, so I applied at what I was sure was the best bank in town.
I ended up getting hired at my last-choice bank for my last-choice position.
Fast forward: That last-choice bank ended up being an amazing employer to work for. And the bank I’d thought housed my dream job? They’ve had many upsets and internal problems over the years.
Reason #4: God is working behind the scenes on something you may not realize for years–or ever.
When I was expecting my son, I wanted nothing more than to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. When I found myself returning to work part time after a too-short maternity leave, I was crushed. I’m not being melodramatic when I say it was a burden that plagued me every day.
It was one year to the week of me going back to work after my maternity leave that God granted my heart’s desire out of the blue. I still don’t know the full reason I had to wait so long, but I do know that when I’m on my hands and knees scraping smashed pizza out of the carpet, I’m better able to appreciate that I’m living my dream.
Reason #5: God loves you too much to give in to your every whim.
We have an electric piano in the room where I do most of my work. One day I was working on the computer, and my son whined for me to turn the piano on. So I did. He whined for me to give him more juice. So I did. Then he whined for me to read him a book.
As I was pulling him onto my lap, it hit me that lately I was at my son’s beck and call, immediately available at his every whim. And while I knew it was good that I was attentive, today I wasn’t doing him any favors: I was spoiling him.
God gives us everything we need. He is always there for us. But thankfully He doesn’t give us everything we want, right when we want it. That’s just not what a wise parent does.
Reason #6: It’s not time.
My husband and I wanted a child for four years before we ever held our baby in our arms. During those years, I often wondered about the wait. Even our attempt to adopt fell through. Didn’t God think we’d be good parents?
In June 2012, we finally welcomed our son into the world. After the fact, I can see the many reasons God had us wait. Among those, it gave me a chance to hone my piano skills so that I could step in at our church when there was a vacancy in the music department, and it allowed my husband and me to have several great years with just the two of us.
With every year that goes by, I see more examples of God’s sovereign plan at play. And while I can’t say I’m happy when it seems that God isn’t answering one of my prayers, I’m so thankful that He sometimes says no.