So Thankful God Said No

A few years ago, God answered a prayer of mine and finally said yes to my request for the Big Thing.

It doesn’t really matter what the Big Thing was — maybe it was healing, a financial breakthrough, a spouse, a job, or some other change in circumstance. Regardless, I’m sure you can relate to needing something, then praying, waiting, and nothing happening. It leaves you feeling like God is either ignoring you or punishing you for wanting it too badly.

When I told my friends that God had finally answered my prayer for the Big Thing, several of them said I was being rewarded for my faithfulness during the long wait. I understood their sentiment, and I probably would have agreed at one point. But something changed during the long wait.

As the days, months, and then years passed by, I began to see that I wanted the Big Thing because I believed it would make me happy, and I felt entitled to that happiness. I also noticed that the harder I worked to get the Big Thing, the more frustrated and miserable I became. Basically, it had become an idol, and God was being kind enough to protect me from getting the thing I was lusting after.

I very frankly told God, “OK, I get it. You’ve resisted my requests in order to show me that I’m selfish, an idolator, and a control-freak. Thank You. I appreciate You making me wait — seriously.  I think it has made me a better man.  So um — now that I’ve passed the test, can I have the Big Thing I’ve been waiting for?”

And in a hundred different ways, He essentially replied, “No, you can’t have it, and here’s why: I’m jealous for you, and I love you with an everlasting love” (Exodus 20:4-5, Jeremiah 31:3).

I had hoped He would be thrilled that I was handling things maturely and, as a reward, give me the Big Thing. Instead, all I got was His repeated assurance that He loved me. But that wasn’t enough — not yet. As the months then years went by, the pain of waiting multiplied. And the only thing that eventually made me feel better was to give up on the Big Thing and believe that if God wanted me to have it, He would do it in His own good time.

Granted, I still did what I could to make the Big Thing happen, but I stopped striving. And as I began waiting on God, rather than anxiously waiting on the Big Thing, my joy grew deeper, because my joy wasn’t dependent on His giving me the Big Thing, it was dependent on Him.

And then quite suddenly, out of nowhere, He gave me the Big Thing in a big way. And although I was grateful — actually, shocked — at how perfectly it all turned out, I was at peace. I didn’t feel validated by it, because it was a gift, not a trophy.

No, the Big Thing wasn’t my reward for waiting. As I waited, He had become my exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1). And that was more than enough.


  1. So relevant to where I am right now…I'm not where you ended up yet…but, for now, I have given up (mostly?) on attaining The Big Thing and instead s l o w l y learning to find joy and contentment in Him in the present moment. Thanks for the encouragement…even though I know that God may never say "Yes" to The Big Thing.


  2. That's a good word.


  3. Thank you for some affirmation! I'm learning more and more each day…He is our Great Reward! Not that He doesn't love to give His children good gifts. But we need to keep things in perspective.


  4. Wow! Josh, you read my mail!!! I've begun to get an inkling after many, many, many (and more)years that God's dealing with me the same way!! I haven't gotten the Big Thing yet (and I'm really old!)but I can look back at the work He's done in me and realizing that He is my great reward and He is enough…even if I never get the Big Thing!


  5. I'm glad it spoke to you. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Thank you for sharing, i have come to that position of resting. The scripture in Philipians helped me alot, where He says we must not be anxious of anything BUT with prayer and supplication we must our requests known to God, and the peace of God that passes understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. A s believing we have access to grace through RIGHT believing NOT RIGHT LIVING, but the devils makes to believe that God rewards/blesses us on a performance based scale, which is a lie. Lately i have come to the revelation that God wants us to be at rest, because Christ paid for everything, if we are striving for stuff we are actually mocking the work of Jesus at the cross.Your article has blessed me and encouraged me to push on.


  7. Seeking Work

    At least you got that big thing. For me, the big thing is, as you may have guessed by my screen name, is work. Although it has been a while since I graduated college, finding a job has only gotten harder. In fact, I have increased my efforts in finding a job, only to be rejected again and again. Now if the big thing were a family, a house, or even a car, I think that it would be easier to wait for such things. But work is a necessary part of existence. Seeing as I have been doing little more than taking up space for some time now, I often wonder if God wants me to make any contribution to the world for Heaven at all. I have begged God countless times to give me more work, and He has given me a few little projects in which I try to be faithful, but He has not given me regular work. But why should He? He is perfect, and I am sinful. My time on this planet is limited. I want to make the most of it, but I can only do that by the miracle of God at this point. I see no reason to expect God to give me a job ever again.


Comments are closed.