“Miss Kat, can we go outside today?”
I glance from the deceptively sunny sky to the snowy white parking lot and shake my head. “Sorry, but no, we can’t.”
According to the weather app, temps have settled below the thirties. By law, I cannot take the children to the play-lot, despite their hyperactive cabin fever. The students, of course, are disappointed, longing to run off their energy. Not understanding that slippery dangers await beyond the windowpane, they assume I am simply a mean adult, trying to ruin their day.
When did “no” become synonymous with “hate?” I am just as guilty as the children. I ask the teacher for extra credit and whine when none is offered. I am upset when a coworker can’t cover for me. Obviously, the state highway patrol hates me since they won’t let me break the speed limit.
If any New Testament saint had reason to feel unloved, it was Paul. He cried out to God three times to be relieved of his “thorn in the flesh.” Nonetheless, God outright said, “No.” The remarkable fact is found in Second Corinthians 12:7-10, however. According to these verses, Paul’s malady ended up being an asset; it allowed God’s strength to be made perfect.
When I don’t let the kids go outside, I am protecting them from sliding on the icy steps. When the authorities admonish me to slow down, they are protecting me from causing a wreck. Likewise, when God said “no” to Paul, He was protecting Paul from conceit.
When God tells us “no,” He is not being a cruel dictator; He is a sovereign, loving Protector. As hard as it is, we must trust God’s statement in Isaiah 55:8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” He is bringing it all together to make us more like His Son.