“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13
“So, are you pregnant yet?” It was such a random question for a new mom to a 3 month old baby boy, a severly sleep-deprived new mom I might add. In the moment I wondered if I had even heard the question right or just simply imagined it. I honestly didn’t know what to say, and what I wanted to say probably need not be said anyhow. Deep down, I knew the question came from a sincere heart, but it was a question that just left me, for lack of better words, angry. Angry and very hurt. I was a new mom, an adoptive mom, but a mom non-the-less. I can’t even count anymore the numerous circles I have been part of that have shared hard stories of infertility and then stories where, after a couple adopts, they suddenly somehow get pregnant. I know this dear lady knew the hard, hard road we had walked to get to where we were at. I know the tears, prayers and support that had poured so generously out of her on behalf of our family for years. I knew her heart was for me to get to experience all the very intimate in’s and outs of having children. She wanted that for me and God knows I had wanted that for me as well. Her question kept looking for a miracle but missed that God had already delivered the miracle. You see, adoption wasn’t just a second-best for our family. It wasn’t a mean’s to an end, a band-aide, or even an attempt to somehow manipulate the arm of God to meet an unmet desire. No, adoption was the very heart of God for our family and to be honest, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. But it had taken me a very, very long and painful road to get there and accept that despite everything and in-spite of all our own best efforts, prayers, and medical advances, that answer for our family and for me specifically had been a resounding and very solid “No”. Before we even walked down the road of adoption I had to die to myself and my own desires in that regard. I had to open clenched and bitter fists in order to wrap my heart and mind around a sovereign God whose best for our family was an altogether different picture than the one I had anticipated for longer than I could remember. When I finally did relinquish my rights in that area of my life, the story God wove together for our family and the way He threw doors open-wide was something that I could never have manufactured or written for myself. It was amazing. It was grace. It was provision. It was MIRACULOUS. It was hard. It was beautiful. It was a baby boy, my baby boy, that now at four is JOY walking, every day. I wouldn’t trade my son or the way God brought him into our family for anything, not even all the tear-stained, sleepless nights spent pleading with God to let me have my own way.
With that said, I am so very thankful God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. I am so, so thankful that he didn’t relent and let me have my way. Over four years later, the answer to that opening question is still a “No” for me. While I have watched others around me with the same or a similar condition experience the miracle of becoming pregnant and carry a healthy child to term, I have not. I have wrestled and grappled with the question of why more than I can even say. All I do know is that God has not willed that for me, right now, or perhaps ever. Does that mean that God is somehow cruel? Does it mean His intentions for me are unfair, unkind, or flippant? Have I truly, as my heart sometimes wants to convince me, been thrown aside and forgotten by God? Am I not worthy enough? Why questions never get me anywhere. To accept sovereignty those “whys” must become “what” questions. What would God have me learn? What would God have me focus on? What is God’s heart? The dialogue should not be an interrogation of God’s motives but rather a humbled act of submission.
Jesus was God walking with skin on. All the power and authority of God was also wrapped up in His son, but rather than exercising His own will and power to save, Jesus walked and acted in humble submission, fully trusting the will and heart of His father God.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” ~ Luke 22:42
God did not save His son that hard night in the garden where olives grow to be picked and await pressing. He did not save His son the day He was dragged through dusty streets, beaten and cruelly battered beyond recognition. He did not miraculously pull His son down from being nailed to a cross. God did not spare Christ the pain of being separated from the presence of God as the weight of everything wrong any of us have ever done was placed squarely upon the shoulders of one who had never done wrong. Jesus prayed. Jesus knew “No”. Jesus also knew the heart behind and in the “No”. God’s plan in saying “No” was bigger and better than a rapid deliverance from persecution and death. Instead, we know that God would see His son through the pit of Hell it’s self so that three days later He would overcome death and LIVE, and in so living, lay a bridge for us to LIVE as well. God’s heart is good. Did you hear that? It is so, so, so deeply and incredibly good.
There is good in God’s “No’s”. There is a method of tenderness in the thorns that prick us. We may not understand them, but God seeks a better way than the one that we would have for ourselves. In His divine way of saying “No”at times, God re-directs, preserves, and saves. Just as we, who love our own children so very much, say “no” to the things that would ultimately do more harm than good, God, whose ways are not our ways and thoughts not our thoughts, at times, answers fervent prayers with a “No”. In this way, in a sense, God’s “No” is not a taking away of good but rather a giving of something better, a framework for the miraculous.