PRAYER: when God says no
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is perfected in weakness.”
Therefore I am well content with
weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties,
for Christ’s sake;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9,10
Paul had a problem.
Some sort of sickness had settled into his eyes that caused people to be repulsed by him. And this for a man who spent every moment of every day dealing with people—before Facebook and email and twitter and blogs made talking face-to-face obsolete.
“A messanger from Satan”, he called it, “a thorn in the flesh”.
It nagged him constantly, interrupted his whole life.
He wanted it away.
I can just imagine how people tried not to stare. You know that thing people do when they don’t want to look at you but they can’t help it? It happens to me every summer when the weather gets hot and I sweep my hair off my neck into a ponytail. There, for the whole world to see, is this big ugly computer thingy stuck to my head with a magnet.
Not exactly a fashion statement.
And people wonder what is that thing? And they try to look at me without looking at it. I hate that.
Paul knew exactly what to do with his problem. He decided to pray it away.
The first time Paul prayed must have been really dramatic. I mean this was Paul! The preacher who’d raised a teenager from the dead when the poor guy fell asleep during the sermon and fell out the window. He fell smack on his head and he died right then and there. Which, of course, didn’t deter preacher Paul at all. He just went outside, put his praying hands on the guy and healed him. Told him to get back upstairs and listen to the rest of his message. Which he did.
So can you just imagine how confident Paul must have felt when he first prayed for healing?
But nothing happened. Nothing.
His eyes still seeped ugliness and people still stared.
He tried again, a little quieter this time. Please? Nothing.
By this time Paul was desperate… and perplexed. Wasn’t God listening? Didn’t He care? Couldn’t He see how this disease was affecting Paul’s life and ministry? He reminded God how much glory He’d get by healing up this mess which couldn’t possibly be God’s wonderful plan for his best life.
By now Paul was not simply asking God to heal him, he’d upped the intensity to entreating.
I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
That’s when Paul got his answer: NO.
No, I’m not going to heal you. No, I’m not going to make this messy thing go away. Not even if you are serving Me and sacrificing for Me. My answer is still NO. And furthermore, My grace is sufficient for you Paul. Even with seeping eyes and staring friends. You are weak. But I am strong and that’s the point. I’m strong and I’m enough.
So I’m going to leave you with this disgusting eye thing and you’re going to get stronger and mightier because of it.
Because of Me.
And you know what is amazing to me about this story? Paul simply said, Okay. He didn’t whine, or pout, or even share how he felt about the No.
Sometimes God says No.
We don’t have to understand it or agree with it or like it. But if we’re going to have half a chance at happiness in the midst of it, we are going to have to do what Paul did and say okay.
That is the only possible way we’re going to be, deep down in our souls, content with all the weaknesses, distresses, and difficulties that go along with the thing you wish you didn’t have. And when some misguided soul pats your hand and says, well, I’m sure its for the best dearie, you’re going to have to restrain yourself from biting her dear sweet head off.
Sometimes that okay is the toughest thing you’ll ever say.
Okay to that thing you really think you ought to have but He says no to. Okay without the reason and wherefores and whys. Just okay.
But when you say it…if you’ll say it… something magical and mystical begins to happen.
He makes it okay.
I know because...
When I finally stopped all my frantic ranting and raving and demanding that God give me back my hearing…
When I quieted enough to realize the audacity of my anger at God for not giving me what I wanted…
When, in a heap of feminine drama, I surrendered my dread of deafness and just said…
okay God, Your will, not mine
That’s when He stepped in and gathered me close and whispered sweet wisdom into my brokenness.
That thing I didn’t want. That thing I feared. That word I could hardly utter…
And here’s a bit of wisdom I’d never known ‘til now—
Before you know it, contentment creeps in. Then after a while you wonder what all that fuss was about anyway.
Because it really is okay.
From my heart,
Have you found a treasure in the darkness? A beautiful relief when you’ve finally said okay? Will you share your story with us? It just might give some of us the courage surrender.
 Acts 20
 I’m ad libbing here.