We are delighted to have Sophie DeMuth as our guest writer today. May you be blessed and encouraged as she shares about times when her desires clashed with God’s will for her life. Over to Sophie…
When I was a university student, I had the opportunity to go on a month-long mission trip to Eastern Europe. Our team of eleven students would be split between three Eastern European cities—Prague, Budapest, and Debrecen (Deh-breht-sen). I longed to go to Budapest so when our team leaders asked us to rank our choices from first to last, I put the Hungarian capital at the top and the other two below it.
I begged God to send me to Budapest. Having lived in Europe before, I loved the feel of a major European city. Budapest felt safe to me. I knew what I was in for. Prague also intrigued me for the same reasons. But Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city—which isn’t saying much—had no appeal to me.
Our team leaders told us a few days later where we were being sent. The dreaded news hit my ears and punched me in the gut: I was going to Debrecen. It was the last place I wanted to go, and I couldn’t understand why God would send me there.
God often doesn’t give us what we want. At the time, it feels like a betrayal—as if God was planning all along to disappoint us. We blame God for the anger we feel. He defied our expectations. Sometimes we withdraw from Him, thinking if we punish Him just enough, He might just change His mind.
I’m guilty of withdrawing. When I’ve been praying to God about something and He doesn’t deliver, I put my Bible away, I refuse to pray, and I cross my arms during corporate worship. I believe the lie that says I can manipulate God to serve me however I want Him to.
In times like these, I feel like a toddler. I’ve seen those cranky kids in grocery stores—the ones who beg their parents for a bag of candy or a shiny new toy. When the parent says no, the child screams and thrashes, hoping that causing a scene will change their parent’s mind. But the good parent knows what’s best for the kid and sticks by the no.
When I pull away from God, it’s His goodness that draws me back to His arms. He is a good father who loves us dearly. A “no” from Him doesn’t come out of malice. He doesn’t have evil intentions—that’s quite impossible for a holy God. Instead, His nos are indicative of His great love for us. If He never said no, He wouldn’t be good. He’d be the parent who spoils his child.
But nos still feel harsh. I’ve learned it’s okay to grieve when God closes a door. When that happens, I can’t help but picture our Savior joining with us in our grief. He isn’t a stranger to nos. He received the greatest no in all history right before His death.
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’”
Luke 22:39–42 (NIV)
Jesus asked God to take away the cup of suffering from Him. He knew the pain He was about to endure and when He saw it all before Him, He asked the Father if there was another way. Instead of withdrawing from God or turning His own way, He resolved to pursue the Father’s will above all else, even when He knew it meant pain.
This story comforts me when I face the nos from God. Jesus’s response prompts me to choose the Father and His will over my own. That does not mean pain and grief won’t happen. It will. It also doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have answers—we may never know the reason behind the no this side of eternity. But we can always rest on God’s unchanging character. He is trustworthy, faithful, and good. He never abandons His children and following Him through disappointment is worth it.
My trip to Debrecen turned out to be one of the greatest gifts in my walk with God. He solidified my calling and grounded me in my gifts over the month I spent in Hungary. Even though this no turned out to be a blessing, there have been many others that haven’t felt as wonderful. If you’re in the midst of a no from God, know that it’s okay to grieve. He is with you in it and you can trust His character.
One day, we’ll be able to look back on this life and see God’s goodness in every piece of our stories—from the nos to the yeses to the not yets. In the meantime, we can ask the Spirit to give us the strength to say, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Sophie DeMuth is a professional writer and content editor in Dallas, Texas. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University with a BA in Christian Studies and Speech Communication. As a former missionary kid, she enjoys traveling overseas, especially to Europe. You can find her on Twitter and on Instagram.