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  • Mark A. Howell

When Things Don't Go Your Way

Have you noticed how easy it is to be grateful when life goes our way? When the check is in the mailbox, the test result from the lab is negative, or when we have a tight connection at the airport and the gate to our connecting flight is right next to the gate of our arriving flight. But what happens when life doesn’t meet our expectations? When the check in the mailbox bounces, or the test result from the lab reveals a terrible illness, or when we miss our connecting flight? Is gratitude even a possibility?

If you know anything about how God works, then you’ll know that the answer is yes. Sometimes life doesn’t go our way—not because of bad luck or even by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No, sometimes life doesn’t go our way because God has a better way.

Think for a moment about our unanswered prayers—we’ve all been there. No matter how fervently we pray, our prayers just don’t seem to be working. It’s frustrating. But all is not lost. You’re in good company. Both Moses and King David, two towering figures in the Bible experienced the struggle with unanswered prayer.

Let that sink in for a moment. The Bible says that Moses spoke to God face to face. And it describes David as a man after God’s own heart. Of all people, you would think that their relationship with God never yielded any disappointment. Yet, both Moses and David had to learn to trust God when He said no. They had to learn two lessons that you and I must learn, and the sooner we learn them, the easier it will be to not only accept God’s closed doors but also to be grateful for them.

The lessons are simple: 1) Our lives don’t belong to us, they belong to God; and 2) If we always received what we wanted, our lives would never be what we expected. You see, because we are flawed by sin, our ability to make sense of our lives is severely limited. Only God can see the beginning from the end, and only He knows what we need and when we need it. That’s why God sometimes says no. And that’s why we can be grateful for unanswered prayers. God is not being unkind—He is either protecting us from something that is hurtful, or He is preparing us for something better.

So, when God says no, you can still rejoice. You may not get what you expected, you may get so much more.


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