Ever seen a stubborn kid throw a fit about not getting his way? Quite a scene, right?
I can’t quote him exactly, but a few Sundays ago our pastor said something along the lines of “Our response to ‘No’ is a measure of our maturity. How we feel and act when our expectations are not met reveals our self-righteousness.”
I love when a truth about my relationship with Father God parallels so well with the relationship I have with my own children. Seeing a spiritual truth play out in my parenting helps me better grasp the truth of it in my own personal responses to God.
One of the greatest joys I experience as a mom is when my kids obey joyfully. It communicates so much about trust, and right relationship, and contentment.
When my child can handle “no” without throwing a fit, it makes me more likely to trust him with a “yes” down the road. I know he can be trusted in more mature situations (sleep-overs, parties, technology) when being told “no” to those things doesn’t leave him undone. He is viewing things with the proper, healthy perspective when not being able to have whatever that “thing” may be doesn’t leave him flailing. If I tell a kid to turn off a video game and he does it happily, great! If I tell him to turn off a video game and he pouts and panics, or even just quietly ignores me, he’s probably on the road to giving that game an unhealthy place in his life (or in stronger terms, making that game an idol).
Likewise, what is my response when feeling like I need to put down something in my own life? Do I sometimes quietly ignore prompts from the Father to quit doing something? To start doing something? You bet I do. Because just like my children, I don’t like no. I think I know best. And ignoring prompts from the Father messes with the relationship. It’s not a severed relationship; God doesn’t stop loving me just like I don’t stop loving my children. But in both cases it makes for a petulant, unhappy child. In my experience as a mom, unhappy petulant children can’t do much other than just be unhappy and petulant. They miss out. There is joy to be had, but they miss it.
There’s also a trust issue at hand, right? If my child is mature and accepts my love and care for him, he can more readily accept my “no”. He wants what he wants, sure, but our relationship doesn’t become undone when he hears my “no” because he trusts that I must have a reason. He can experience disappointment while simultaneously trusting that I’m doing what’s best for him. (Well, at least what I think best within my my limited, human frailty and understanding. When God says “No”, I can trust in His perfection.)
I have been told “no” by God, and it’s hard. Painful stuff. Trust, contentment, maturity — the absence or presence of all those things are on grand display and it’s not always pretty. The “no” that I received wasn’t a command or a nudging in a certain direction, or a decision I got to make for myself; but instead it was out of my hands and in the form of friendships that didn’t play out how I wanted, jobs I didn’t get to keep, and places I didn’t get to live. When I see those circumstances in my life as directed by the hand of a loving, caring, perfect Father, they are still painful but not nearly as much so. I trust him. His plan is better than mine.
The more I seek relationship with God, the more I believe that He is the author of the story of my life, and the more I experience of His faithfulness, the more I can accept that “no” is always for my good and His glory.
Look for a purpose in the pain that “no” can bring. It’s there. He doesn’t waste anything.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4