I've been thinking about a "Theology of No" lately. I think this really started as I was praying about different things and often getting a no from God. My life changed back in 1999 when there was a ministry job at the (Syracuse Rescue mission) that I was sure I should get and sure I would get. When I was told No by God my life was redirected. 5 months later, God had me in a different ministry (Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg) a very similar job, but in the same community as my future wife.
When God said no, I was heartbroken and confused. I wanted answers and I didn't get them for a long time. But now I see when God says no, he knows what he's doing.
Now that I'm a father, a loving father. I say no a lot. My kids ask for a lot of stuff, but they are getting used to hearing no. Sometimes it is very easy for me to say no, often its very hard. Usually my kids requests are well within my power to accomplish. Can I have ice cream, candy, McDonalds etc. Often I think, I could give it too them, its in my power it will make them happy and what harm is there in saying yes. The problem is if I always said yes there could be problems. My kids could eventually get obese. Happens a lot in America, am I right? My kids could get spoiled. Again pretty common.
Sometimes my kids ask me to intervene when kids at the playground have hit them. They know they can't hit back. They come to me tell me the problem and ask me to step in and alter their situation. Spare them the trouble, the fear the pain the hard stuff. I always tell them to tell the other person that it's not OK. Tell them to stop and that it's not nice. It's hard, usually they just try to avoid the problem. Once in a while they will address the person head on. Once in a while they will stand up and confront the hardship and things will get better. If they do that, and things still aren't changing, then I'll step in.
When people today think about God and his love they think like a child. God has the power to step in and change things, he has the power to fix my situation, to make it easier. If He loved me he'd do it. We often parent like that, to the detriment of our kids. I think we learn from our heavenly father, see that saying No is a part of his plan. Its often how he teaches us. He teaches us that getting everything we want is not healthy for us. That always serving our impulses and desires and selfishness is destructive to ourselves and those around us. As a parent the hard part is knowing when, why, and how to say no. As a child of God, we need to accept the no, and consider what God is trying to teach us by saying no, (or even wait). Do I need to face the trial, do I need to confront the person I'm having trouble with (most likely) do I need to stop running and avoiding the things in my life that stress me out? Do I need to grow up?
Lord God, Father in heaven help us all to accept your no, to learn from the situation and to pursue the good things you have before us even if it gets a little muddy and murky and difficult on the way. Amen