About the Author

Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has lead thousands over the past 15 years to help make their walk with God an invigorating journey. Not...

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  1. This is a great post w/ a great message. God has said “no” to me many times. So hard in the moment to understand why but His plan always has a purpose. I wanted my mom to survive her battle with Lupus… but God said no. I wanted to get pregnant quickly and easily (as it appeared to happen this way for ALL my friends) but God said no, you will walk the journey of fertility treatments. I wanted my both babies inside my womb to survive but God said no, you just need one child at this time. Despite all the no’s from my Father I am thankful for his perfect plan. B/c at the end of the day HE knows best and for that I am very thankful.

  2. it’s no wonder I’m up and at em … at 5:24 AM … “And tragically, impatience becomes the breeding ground for compromise.” The center of this cake is being slowly cooked by HIM like pintos and greens … no longer in the over but on top, lidless … ready to boil over … when JAMES is presented again and again to TURN the heat down on the beauty of low.

  3. Just what I needed to hear today!! My husband and I are in transition in ministry or I should say about to be. We’ve gradually adjusted to our first two years of the empty nest and after dealing with the unrest that comes from that, we have a new unrest. After working through the process of whether its a reaction to the last two years or if this is really what God desires, we are ready….really ready. And God is saying wait for me. This is especially hard because of the no’s I have received over the years. I have craved female relationships, and when all around me even here, so many others seem to flourish in theirs, relationships have disappeared from my life.

    Because of the mental illness of my Mom and no present day resolution, my mother is alive but I have no mother. That has resulted in a fragmented relationship with my sister and she has carried her own baggage. So this has been my journey through adulthood which has been complicated with ministering along side my husband in small churches. My experience has been that the smaller the church, the harder time the congregation has in embracing me for who I am. Because of my mother’s illness, I learned at a young age to be me and yet because it is my husband who is the outgoing one and I’m his opposite and work behind the scenes, it has generally not gone over well.

    I have struggled with God’s no at times. Many times. And yet I have often thanked him for these experiences because it has driven me to Him and kept me there. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of many favorite passages with “do not lean on your own understanding” hitting me over and over to live it not just read it.

    So here I find myself, emptied of significant relationships other than just a few with my husband and sons, being filled with Gods grace and mercy to accept what He gives and when he chooses to give. I love what you say….”Nothing kills patience like being solely focused on the object of your desire”. So today, I start again and try to live in the moment of today.

    • Barb,

      Praying for a quick resolution to your mother’s mental illness and the family heartache it can cause. I was there for 2 long years. It went from simple dementia to full blown dementia and sundowners. Dad was there 24/7 365, & I got all the calls for help even leaving work on occasions–yes my life was torn & miserable.

      Thankfully God took her home in a nice peaceful way–not waking up to take meds. May God do that for you also!

      • Thank you Beth…for your encouragement and your prayers. They are so appreciated. My mother battles with bipolar that was misdiagnosed until I was 19 and since then has been in a state of denial and off and on with meds. Its so easy now, after so many years to just lose hope. But I know that I am still in Gods hands, even when nothing makes sense.

  4. “Nothing kills patience like being solely focused on the object of your desire. And tragically, impatience becomes the breeding ground for compromise.”

    I really needed to hear this today – yikes! Thank you!

  5. Great post! I have numerous “no’s” that I am now so grateful for! But at the time of the “no”—-not so much!

    Thanks!

  6. Sometimes, a no is a yes that is waiting right around the corner. There are those times I have seen God’s yes come just as I gave up and figured He said no, and there are the times He does say no. It took a lot of growing pains, but the sooner I accept God’s no, the sooner He moves me out of the rut!

  7. Truly believing that it’s BECAUSE He loves me that He sometimes says “no” is the lesson that my heart is yearning to embrace. I don’t know if the “no” I am receiving is a “no” or a “not yet”, but I want to give thanks and praise for where I am right at this moment. I need to stop focusing on the circumstances and refocus on the One who controls my circumstances! Thank you for sharing!

  8. This is VERY powerfully put. Better to stay in the potter’s hand than implode.
    Thanks for sharing your insights Lysa.

  9. I needed to hear this… Not to get over a past “no,” but to get over the fear of a future one, specifically with writing. We’re free to try and even fail because God has loving purposes in that. Thank you

  10. Thank you. I had the rug pulled out, so I’m trying to patient with finding my niche and working on weaknesses (time management, home organization, being a good mother and wife instead of glamorous job that I walked away from–cleaning floors in the house instead of getting raises and plaques for high-value contributions to the team). Wondering why I got that Master’s Degree? Thank you!

  11. Lysa,

    Wonderfully written post!

    In my not so mature moments I wondered, “God, this isn’t fair. Why do you keep saying no?”

    In my immature moments I would complain & bemoan my place in life. I have and am there now. I can’t hardly stand my job anymore & my attitude has shown its ugly head! The job went from patient centered care in a clinic to being literally taken out of most patient care aspects and thrown into “ancillary” aspects–scanning papers, doing secretarial & busy work. This has frustrated me so much that I’ve cried many many tears and acted unchristlike!

    Lately I’ve grown in my Christian walk and pray about any changes and Thank Him for the job and paycheck he is allowing me to have.

    Ruts of want are tough places to be stuck–AMEN and AMEN!!!!!!!!

  12. Oh! The timing of reading this today could not be more perfect for me. Right now, the silence is just as difficult to deal with as the “no”. And yet, I know that if I lean into Him and His Word, that silence will be punctuated by a “yes”. Yes, He loves me. Yes, He knows me best. Yes, He knows how much growing I need to do. Yes, He knows the sinful areas that need to be dealt with. I simply cannot thank you enough for your words of truth and I know that the Holy Spirit led me over here this morning. Yes! 🙂
    Vanessa

  13. “Nothing kills patience like being solely focused on the object of your desire. And tragically, impatience becomes the breeding ground for compromise.”

    I recently went through something in where I compromised to get what I wanted more quickly. God gave me my desire but not the way I wanted it. I was like the cake, ready to implode.

    I too now pray, “God, please never let my success outgrow the character necessary to handle it.”

    Thank you for writing.

  14. I went through a time of years where I never got a ‘no,’ but seemingly no answer at all. All that time He didn’t have an answer for me … it was a waiting, a learning, it was a time of accumulating knowledge.

    The reason for this time of no answer at all started about 12 years ago, after much conflict ion, I chose to omit my mother from my life. Her abusive treatment turned me into an empty shell person and I couldn’t take it anymore. The breaking point was when she deliberately humiliated me in my own home at my young son’s birthday party. And I heard what I knew was God saying to me (because I knew it could not have come from myself), “There is nothing you can do or say that will ever make her love you.” It was one painful truth, but also a long awaited answer to prayer. And even after that, I swear I prayed sweating blood for two months after that because the thought of cutting off my ‘mother’ was something I was always conditioned you never do. I grew up being taught that ‘honouring a parent’ meant doing whatever they say and being at their beck and call and never challenging them on anything for any reason even if done respectfully. It also meant that I wasn’t allowed to stand up for myself when she felt she had the right to berate and abuse at her discretion. And then He gave me a vision while praying one morning … I won’t go into detail at this point – but He told me in this vision, “There is nothing you can ever do that will make Me stop loving you. I will never leave you or forsake you – you are MINE. I love you (with a deeper love you can never know) and I will be all the father and mother you will ever need.” Of course, I bawled … but I also had an answer to prayer. That was 12 years ago.

    Fast forward to about a year and a half ago. Up until then, no answers about my mother. No ‘no’s’; no ‘yes’s’. Nothing. I put off for many years confronting and confessing to my family the reality and brutality of my mother’s emotional and psychological abuse. The result of it was basically being disowned by them – all of my family of origin. They believed her over me – it didn’t surprise me – she’s really good an manipulating through emotions. I knew 12 years ago that I wouldn’t have a mother and never understood when God said He’d also be all the father I’d ever need – and a year and a half ago – it finally made sense. “He knows the plans He has for you.” The reality was … for too many years I had already been shunned by family members because of omitting my mother (which turned out to be an incredible blessing – I broke the abuse chain – I hope anyway.) I was treated like an outsider and I FELT it. Getting together for Christmases or any other family occasion (without my mother present by the way) became really hard to take.

    Initially it HURT. I felt the pain of rejection all over again. BUT … God stepped up. He reminded me that He would be all I would ever need. And the blessings since … let me just say, ‘I could write a book!’ The Lord IS GOOD. And the word, ‘good’ doesn’t even begin to cover it – not even a little bit.

    Point is, it can feel sometimes that God is not there – its a lie. HE ALWAYS IS. He always is … and He has a plan for you, and it’s wonderful. Just wait. 🙂

  15. Sorry – the point was that I wanted a healthy mother-daughter relationship. The end answer was, ‘no.’ I wanted my family to believe me, not her – another ‘no.’ It wasn’t meant to be and God made up for it. He always has something better for us.

    • Thank you Rise for sharing your story. I posted earlier and have gone through a similar relationship with my mother. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with a living mother who is impossible to have a relationship . Especially when there are so many passages that encourage forgiveness and people interpret forgiveness to mean the ability to have a relationship with whoever the issue is with. One can forgive but it takes two to reconcile and we have no control over the other person.
      Thanks again for sharing from your heart.

  16. For me, I would say:
    “God, please never let my FAILURE outgrow the character necessary to handle it.”
    When “failure” overwhelms me – or what I perceive as failure – I’m not sure which – maybe both.
    Great article, Lysa.
    Thank you!
    Patricia

  17. Beautiful post, Lisa. Yes, I’ve been told “no” a lot and I’m not always happy about it. 🙂 But I trust my God’s heart and know His “no” is what’s really best for me.

  18. You may not have got the job, got published like you wanted.but your on here helping encourage all of us! I hope to be a writer on a blog or like this incourage someday myself when God deems it best if he calls it..

    my many No’s in my walk have been a long road for me especially these last three years when my hubby of 3o years was, taken tradgcially without warning, I pleaded no Lord! Left with health issues, no career & two teen kids. NO!

    When the stress of that time with already compromised health took my teeth..NO!

    when I wanting children & all my friends were having babies back when My hbby & I were young God said NO! He then blessed us/me with my jewels way back then through adoption.

    So even now as I lay bedrest with adrenal illness & health issues that have plagued me a long time, and worsened from all my stress, I want healing so bad & he says wait, or NO! Im am stretched more to let him have His say, His way, His time, for I know His NO is for something better..I buck it ,but hoping in my older years I have learned & grown some to be more like him..In impossibilities to see Him provide & lead His way for His glory..

    Thank you for your notes to encourage us all this I know well myself, but On this day Im the one who needs a little encouraging myself .Without work laid up with no way to pay for upcoming bills in a few weeks, unsure how long Ill be off work in a job Hes blessed me with that pays meagerly but I love hoping he will hold it secure for me.

    Impossibilities,NO”s His way to really shine..Dying to self! So I can grow more.

    Hes worked miracles in these three years & is always faithful!

    Thanks

    Debby

  19. How can I thank God for a “No you cant have a healthy marriage?” Can ANYONE really tell me how I can do that?

    • Wow! I am struck by your hurt, anonymous. I am saddened by your pain. I cannot embrace you physically, but I am sending you hugs and prayers. It seems so trite to say, “I will pray for you”, but I will. I am sure you have prayed for a long time for a healthy marriage and it hasn’t come. That doesn’t necessarily mean no. It means that he is at work, in both of you, but you are on different roads, spiritually. You are your Father’s and he is yours. And I don’t know your husbands heart, but God does and he has him in his sights. And his heart is in His hand. As well as the health of your marriage. He sees you, knows you and loves you. Your pain is very real and close to him. But if we never had challenges, we would never be desperate, and need to be totally dependent on him. Your marriage is not beyond his grasp. Surrender yourself, your husband, and your marriage totally to him and place your hope in Him. Not in what he will do or how he will heal it, but in him alone. Trust his grace to sustain you and he will. I know he will because he has done it for me. If I can help, email me at lesliesk@bellsouth.net

  20. I started to write this, but saw the pain in the above post and had to leave hopefully some encouragement.
    I just wanted to thank you for writing this. I had checked my email several times today, and saw it in there, but just didn’t have time to read it. So this evening my son who is 19 and had auditioned for a worship school that he really wanted to go to and we had prayed and sought God and thought it was his will and his timing for him to go, got a call from the school saying he did not get in. God’s timing is perfect, because I read this AFTER that call. And I am able to say, without a shadow of a doubt that God has a better plan. And if this place is not God’s VERY BEST, we don’t want him at this school, even though it seems like a perfect fit to us. God has my son’s best interest at heart, and if he says NO, he has other plans, other lessons, and other surprises in store for him. I am thankful and joyful that the God of the universe cares enough to say NO sometimes. He is a far better parent than I.

  21. It’s so true. I remember be pregnant with my first baby and since I didn’t have any others to keep me busy I was completely obsessed with every move she made in my belly. At 7 months along I thought, “she could be born right now and survive just fine! I’d be perfectly okay with going into labor!!” Of course now I realize what a ridiculous thing that was for me to think…especially now having friends who’s babies were born prematurely. It was a sure sign of my immaturity, impatience and willingness to compromise…thank God I didn’t have the capability to pull that cake from the oven!

    To make a long comment longer, I’ll also add that when I’m feeling down about where I’m at and/or where I *think* I should be, I find that reminding myself of your first statement, “It wasn’t meant to be. I trust God and believe in His perfect plans.”…is the best reassurance I could ask for. It always makes me feel better.

  22. I so needed to read this. After months of praying and waiting for a job to miraculously come through – I was finally told that it wasn’t going to happen. I know those mature and not so mature moments…I was having them as I gave up on trying to sleep. I know in my head that He has something better planned, and knows what is coming for the employer, but oh, how I wanted that job to happen.

    Amazing that now I can see so many more opportunities that might be available. Even to the point of someone asking for me to apply for a job.

    thanks for speaking my heart today.

  23. oh, it’s so important to be reminded of this.
    It makes perfect sense, of course – I wouldn’t be a good parent if I said ‘yes’ to everything my sons asked for, and God is my Father in heaven and he does know best.
    It’s not me in charge, it’s God, and He doesn’t make mistakes.
    I pray every day for more patience.
    Thank you so much for your post. Blessings to you.

  24. This article gives me such fresh perspective. Even hope in the “no’s” as I rejoice that He is building character in me. Thank you!

  25. Lysa,

    I enjoyed your post. It’s an artfully written reminder that God loves me in spite of some of the circumstances he permits in our lives. Learning to rejoice in His “no” is so important. Thanks for writing about this.

    I am familiar with God’s “no”. Not precisely in the manner you described, but it has been a “no”, all the same.

    Looking back, over the 18 years I’ve known him (not long considering I’m 47,) when He says “no” to a life-changing request, my life DOES change; but not always in the way I envisioned. The changes that happen in my life after praying like that remind me that He always hears our prayers.

    But with each “no”, there were so many “yeses” to requests as we traveled the new path He put us on. Each “no” led me into an experience that made me stronger, more compassionate, and more confident in His love for me and mine for Him.

    Our latest “no” has led our family on an amazing adventure to simplify our lives in a big way. I started a blog about that journey last month. I’m still trying to find a voice for my blog, but at least I’m starting to speak.

    I’m learning to embrace His answers, whether “no” or “yes” the closer I get to Him. Because He loves me so much.

    Love,
    Laura