As we welcome the New Year, I would hope you could look back on 2016 in remembrance of every trial, joy, success, failure, high and low, and hold them dear. Those moments are the fabrication of your character. On that same account, I would also hope that in the situations that did not have the outcome you desired, you were able to still look at them with gratitude. The works of the Lord are not always understood, yet they are perfect in every matter.
This article is one I write with a heavy heart due to recent situations, but through it all, I have come to find sometimes we have to thank God for the relationship that did not follow through the way we swore it would. Sometimes we have to thank God for the door that was not opened because it wasn't for you. Sometimes you have to thank God that He didn't answer your prayer. Sometimes we have to thank God for the friendship that was simply for a season. Sometimes we have to thank God for the career that did not see fulfillment because He had greater plans. Sometimes we have to thank God for the things we cannot see. Sometimes we have to thank God for not only what He has done, but for all the times He had our back when we had no idea what He was doing. He brought you through the Red Sea and had your back. This concept is difficult because it resonates regret, resentment, and even anger within our human spirit. But all the while, He is saying, "You do not understand now what I am doing, but one day you will."
Finding peace in God's "no" is probably the most difficult concept of being a Christian because our human reaction is to stomp our feet and say we know what we are doing. This is a particle of functional faith in a dysfunctional situation. If you're like me, you take comfort in a plan and a schedule, but God takes pride in testing our faith in His plan...Do you see where the clash is? It is not that submission isn't a factor or that disobeying is prominent, but we choose to manipulate God's "no" to our advantage:
"Well God said this wasn't my calling so I'll go try this."
"God revealed this wasn't the man I will marry so let me go try someone else."
"God showed me this isn't the lifestyle I need to live, so let me try a different one instead."
All the while, He is wanting you to be still and know. Not be still and know what you're doing next, but be still and come to know Him as He reveals himself to you. Now, allow me to be very transparent, in a recent situation, I was impressed to make a decision that would alter all the plans I could have sworn were for me. I fought with myself on God's no and wondered. In concluding what needed to be done, I was overwhelmed in peace and confirmation that surpassed my understanding. On the same note, I felt incredibly lonely in my final decision because the odds were against me. I learned that sometimes walking the road God so preciously paved for you is a lonely walk, second-guessing seems second nature, and we sometimes fight the no to find supporting evidence for our yes. It is only human. Sometimes we have to thank God for the door that remained shut because He knew your purpose did not fit the place provided on the other side.
Before doubting God and His ability to have your back when no one else did, doubt the doubt that overwhelmed your heart into thinking His no was a punishment. As children we are taught no means harmful, unhealthy or unnecessary, but why did that concept become vague once reaching adulthood? God is our father and wants nothing more for us than for us to become loved in His presence, comforted in His plan, and satisfied in His will for us. God's no for us is never rejection, but redirection to everything we are called for, and He is merely protecting you from less than His best. Guard your heart from being bound in bitterness because your plan didn't follow through. Instead, thank God He kept you in mind to use you at your full potential. At times, situations will arise testing us, but if our roots are deep, there will be no need to fear the raging winds of opposition. Sometimes we have to learn hope the hard way, and understand that our greatest hardships birth an even greater hope. In some instances He utters no answer because He alone is the answer. Living a life full of open doors would lead down many paths that glorify us, full of empty promises. Living a life of dead ends, U- turns, and God ordained openings allows us to recognize who is in control and how magnificent His works are. You can't judge another story by the scene that looks so perfect. There may be loose ends that that scene does not show. Sometimes our expectation of perfection in our walk stops our celebration of progress. He has chosen you and called you for great things, but your definition of great is only surface level compared to His. So, as we embark into 2017, thank God for what He has done, will do, and is doing that you did not see. Let this be a year of 17:
Joy, peace, hope, provision, victory, healing, purpose, submission, possibility, wisdom, strength, love, favor, potential, grace, momentum and mercy.