Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (ESV)

Have you ever noticed that there are times when God not only does not give us what we ask, but He goes as far as defending His answer in ways that only we can understand? We need search no further than Paul’s own account of His “thorn in the flesh” that he encountered following his incredible visions of heaven. If we read carefully, we see where Paul not only knew where this affliction came from, but WHY it had come as well. He perceived that it was God’s way of making sure that he did not get caught up in “believing his own press” for having been permitted to see unspeakably glorious things in his heavenly visions. 

Three times he implored the Lord to remove this unidentified infirmity. The Lord responded audibly that it would be His grace—not His healing—that would be all that Paul truly needed. For it would be God’s grace exhibited throughout this suffering that would be a constant reminder of His presence amid every circumstance that Paul would encounter from this day forward. That was it. Paul had his answer—not the one he was looking for, but his answer nevertheless—and there would be adjustments that would need to be made. His condition became something he would choose to embrace rather than endure with complaining. His weakness would be the foundation of a brand-new understanding of God’s power working in him.

I know from personal experience that a “no” from God can be a painful response to embrace. But with every “no” I have ever gotten, there has eventually been an open door to opportunities I doubt I could ever have found had He given me what I asked. I have seen the power and grace of God so much more clearly through the eyes of disappointment than I have through tears of joy. 

There is something life-changing around the corner when God says “No.”