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God’s Legitimate Answer

by Joel Rosenberg

Editor’s Note:  Considering the times in which we find ourselves living, and many of us having prayed for a very different outcome in the presidential election, perhaps this is something of which we need to be reminded. God Does Say ‘No’.

This was first published in the April, 2019 W&W. (SKN)

(From: What’s the Story. The Joel C. Rosenberg Newsletter)

     The beginning of April has seen a resurgence of violence along the Gaza border with Israel. For a number of nights in a row, the Red Alert app on my phone kept going off time after time, indicating that rockets were being launched into Israel. Most of these rockets were destroyed by the Iron Dome missile defense system. However, some did make it through, destroying homes, causing injury, and even taking lives. In response, Israel launched numerous air strikes in an attempt to bring the rocket attacks to a halt.

     It’s a helpless feeling being in the United States speaking at events, meeting with friends and political leaders, and promoting my book, all the while knowing that back in Israel people I know and love are in the crosshairs of these rockets. Along with so many others, I have been praying for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians for years now. It seems like such a good prayer—a righteous prayer. Yet the rockets fly, the jets strike, the buildings fall, the people die. Where is God? Why doesn’t he answer our many prayers? The fact is the Lord has answered. And his answer is “no.”

     Earlier this month, I was invited by my friend Skip Heitzig to speak at the church he pastors—Calvary Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During that talk, I made the statement, “‘No’ is a legitimate answer from God, because he knows better.” This is one of the easiest theological concepts to agree with and one of the most difficult to accept. Who is going to argue that God doesn’t know best? Of course he does. He is omniscient (all-knowing) and he can see all time from beginning to end. So if God determines that “no” is the best answer, then “no” is the best answer.

     Where this breaks down is in the actual application of this truth. When I pray for healing for a loved one and God says “no,” it’s a great deal more difficult to sit back and say, “Oh well, God. I guess you just know better.” “No” is not an easy answer to hear from God because it is so hard for us not to inject our own wisdom and will and plan and logic.

     This brings us back to praying for peace in Israel and the entire Middle East. To me, peace makes sense. But I’m just me—a flawed human looking at the world through my flawed human perspective. God’s perspective is so much more vast and his choices are absolutely perfect. So I pray what seems to me to fit into God’s will. However, I rest in the knowledge that God will say “yes” when “yes” is best, “no” when “no” is necessary, and “wait a while” when he decides to hold off until the time is right.

Joel Rosenberg is a Christian Jew now living in Israel.  You may recognize the name because he is a well-known writer of novels that seem to come right from the daily newspaper. This editor (Sandra Naugle) has enjoyed and appreciated his novels. There is no cursing or out of the way comments in his novels and his main characters always look to scripture when assessing the situations in which they find themselves. He has also written several books that are non-fiction. Follow him at www.joelrosenburg.com

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10