When God Says No
In perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1
When I was conscripted into the military at age eighteen, as all young Singaporean men are, I prayed desperately for an easy posting. A clerk or driver, perhaps. Not being particularly strong, I hoped to be spared the rigors of combat training. But one evening as I read my Bible, one verse leaped off the page: “My grace is sufficient for you . . .” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
My heart dropped—but it shouldn’t have. God had answered my prayers. Even if I received a difficult assignment, He would provide for me.
So I ended up as an armored infantryman, doing things I didn’t always enjoy. Looking back now, I’m grateful God didn’t give me what I wanted. The training and experience toughened me physically and mentally and gave me confidence to enter adulthood.
In Isaiah 25:1–5, after prophesying Israel’s punishment and subsequent deliverance from her enemies, the prophet praises God for His plans. All these “wonderful things,” Isaiah notes, had been “planned long ago” (v. 1), yet they included some arduous times.
It can be hard to hear God saying no, and even harder to understand when we’re praying for something good—like someone’s deliverance from a crisis. That’s when we need to hold on to the truth of God’s good plans. We may not understand why, but we can keep trusting in His love, goodness, and faithfulness.
Lord, give me the faith to keep trusting You even when You say no.
Throughout Isaiah we see dark and dire prophecies interspersed with oases of hope. We may think these dramatically different sections contrast with each other—and they do—but they’re also complementary. Note how Isaiah 25 responds to previous pronouncements of judgment, which the prophet praises God for.
Chapter 24 declares that the entire earth will be devastated (vv. 1–3). Then it concludes by saying, “The