2 Corinthians 12:1-10
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
I can remember it like yesterday when my facility closed down. All my dreams had been crushed. All the pre-planning and envisioning a new school philosophy down the tubes. "How did it happen so quickly?" I asked myself. I had prayed and prayed for answers asking God to wrap us in his protective blanket showing me the light and how to reach it faster. My prayers seemed to go unanswered.
As we began to pack up and close down, I became ill. I didn't notice the onset as serious as it was to become, and so I completed my designated tasks holding my head high. I knew in my heart God had a new beginning planned, and with a laden heart I placed my trust in him exclusively as I had always done.
I went on to search new job openings. Something different was coming my way; something better I had absolute faith. God would have only let one opportunity slip through my hands if another better one would take its place. But, after six months of job searching I began to feel paralyzed with fear. "Was I ever going to work again? Had God forsaken me?" I began praying more fervently.
Then it happened. I became stricken with such an illness that I was laid in bed for months. God knew there was no time for a job at this point in my life, only time for healing. And he took care of my basic needs as he promises. I was at his mercy. No wonder, despite many job applications, I went unnoticed. Had I received conditional employment, I would have lost my unemployment and possibly my house during this trying time.
Didn't Jesus tell his disciples, "Ask and you shall receive?" But didn't he go to the Garden of Gethsemane and pray, "Take this cup from me." (Mark 14:36) And yet an hour later he was arrested and persecuted. On the cross he prayed more intensely, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34) Yet God said no to Jesus' prayers.
Let's take a better look at what Jesus said in the Gospel, "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (John 16:24) Could the answer be that God will provide us joy not give us everything we ask for? Furthermore, if I received that job offering that I consistently prayed for would I have been stricken during the job with no means of support? God knew the end result would have been more horrific for me if he would have given me what I asked.
When God says no he longs for us to be comforted through other Christians. Through all the heartache good things can come from a no answer. Things that will lead us ultimately to joy. Our hardships offer others a network to serve. More importantly, struggles keep our egos in check. God can be glorified through our weaknesses.
In the end I spent 10 months in bed healing myself. I can tell you that two months before my unemployment ran out (yes, that was when they offered the 99 weeks when the economy was impoverished) I began to seek work again. Thirty days to my last employment check I received a job offer. That job offered began in 30 days. My employment began when my benefits wore out. God knew.....................