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When God says no.
There is a certain part of Christianity that teaches and preaches, God wants you to be happy. God wants you to be successful. God wants you to have everything you desire. These false prophets preach and teach that a life in Christ is a life without suffering or trial or hardship. These preachers and teachers are called “Prosperity Gospel preachers and teachers.
It sounds good. Doesn’t it? Just believe in God and life will be rainbows that will cover easy street.
The problem with the “prosperity” preachers and teachers is they don’t have a good answer for the bad times. The times when God says no. The times when things get worse.
They will somehow heap the blame for God not blessing, on you. You did not have enough faith. You did not pray fervently enough. You did not give enough money. The problem is always you.
What the “prosperity preachers” miss…. is faith that clings to Jesus. Faith always clings to What God has done, has promised and is still promising and doing.
Let’s be clear. God does want good for you. God wants you to live in His forgiveness and peace. But the good that God wants for you, does not always result in success, or fame or a fat bank account. Sometimes the good God desires for you, looks like suffering that brings repentance. Sometimes the good God want for us is hidden in His No.
No # 1 God is silent.
The Canaanite woman in the Gospel reading would not take no for an answer. 3 times Jesus denied her request. What request could be more worthy than a mom pleading for her daughter? Yet when she cries out for Jesus to have mercy on her daughter “Jesus answered her not a word!” Jesus was silent.
The disciples requested Jesus give her what she wants and send her away. Jesus response, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She was denied a second time.
The third time the woman addressed Jesus directly. “Lord, help me.” 26And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
Denied 3 times, and the last two somewhat insultingly, and what did the woman do? She continued to believe that Jesus would heal,……. that He would show mercy,……… that He would be who the scriptures promised Him to be.
She responded, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Saving Faith always clings to Jesus no matter what the world around us says.
Faith clings to God’s Word even when the outward circumstances seem to say no. After being denied and shut down 3 times, Jesus answers the woman. “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
God uses two primary things to teach us. He uses His Word guided by His Holy Spirit. And He uses suffering or silence. One of my good friends told me the life lessons he has learned really well have always come at the hands of pain and suffering and God’s silence.
Sometimes God says No.
St. Paul had some sort of physical ailment. He called it a thorn in the flesh. He prayed to God 3 times that it would be removed. God said no, to removing it. But He also said this. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God knows that when times are good, our sinful tendency is to take credit for things. Our faith drifts away for Jesus as the object of our hope and salvation…….. to us as the object. Sometimes God causes suffering in our lives to strengthen our faith and direct us back to Him. Sometimes God says No or is silent and we simple don’t know why.
That is when faith fixes it gaze solely on the promises in God’s Word. Faith clings to Jesus and His promises for us. “All things work for the good of those who love me.” Romans 8. Isaiah writes of Jesus, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice”. Jesus says “I will never leave you” and from His cross, “It is finished”.
This morning God kept His promise to Keira and Evelynn. He washed them in the waters of Holy Baptism and adopted them into His Kingdom. When the sign of the cross was made upon their forehead and heart, they were connected to Jesus Cross, to His death and to His resurrection. Every promise God’s Word makes about forgiveness and salvation was given to them. Today that is easy to see.
Next week, next month, next year when thing are all out of control and not making sense, when it might seem God is saying No or silent all together. His promises are still the same. Our Baptism is still connecting us to Jesus. God is still working for our good. Jesus death still forgives your sins.
Faith given to us in our Baptism always has Jesus as the object, especially when life goes sideways, and we question God.
Remember dear Child of God. God’s promises to us depend on Jesus faithfulness not ours. God’s promises to us depend on the faithful one, on Jesus who continued toward the cross even when Satan was offering Him an out. Falsely accused, and arrested, beaten and mocked, crucified died and buried, risen on the third day. All of that is Jesus being faithful for you.
On the days when you can see Jesus, His promises to you and His forgiveness for you clearly….. Thanks Be to God!
On the days when things are far less clear…….. God’s promises to you through Jesus do not…………… will not, CAN NOT Change!
Saving Faith. ,……… Wash your sins away faith ,……..clinging to Jesus death and resurrection faith,…….. always has Jesus as its object, and always gives to us God’s precious gifts.
In the Name of +Jesus+. Amen.