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When God Answers "No"

When God Answers "No" by Elizabeth George

Fanny Crosby, the famous hymn writer, believed that God’s purposes are good. You can sense this in her comments about the doctor who caused her blindness:

“I have heard that this physician never ceased expressing his regret at the occurrence; and that it was one of the sorrows of his life. But if I could meet him now, I would say, ‘Thank you, thank you, over and over again for making me blind.’...Although it may have been a blunder on the physician’s part, it was no mistake on God’s. I verily believe it was His intention that I should live my days in physical darkness, so as to be better prepared to sing His praises and incite others to do so.”2

Through a doctor’s apparent mistake, God gave to the Church the wonderful songs of a blind Fanny Crosby who wrote hymns until she died at age 95—hymns that have endured and inspired others to greater faith.

Impacted by Others

When has someone else’s “blunder” or “mistake” touched your life? Or when has someone’s malice severely impacted you? People who have faith in God and hope in Him accept such unexplainable events as “no mistake on God’s part.” Like Fanny Crosby, a Christian who experienced tragedy in her life and continued to love God, you can model a strong trust and hope in God despite the events you encounter. So to start—or continue—down the path of loving God even more, pray and think through these exercises.

Inventory of Your Life

Take an inventory of your life. Chart the path you’ve walked, and review how God has shown you His will through the years:

  • When did He stop you, send you back, or re-direct you?
  • How did God change your direction? Did He “forbid” or “fail to permit” something?
  • Was there an “accident” or a “mistake” along the way, a tragedy, an unjust slander, an envious person, a failure, a lack, a deep hurt in your past?

Now look again at the autobiography you have just sketched. Where has God worked bad for good? And where do you see Him making you more like Christ?

When God Answers “No”

As you consider your autobiography you’ll be able to see that it is in limiting that God reveals the limitlessness of His power and grace and purposes.

  • God’s “no” to one thing is “yes” to another.
  • “No” in one direction is an indicator of “yes” in a different direction.
  • “No” to certain pursuits only means “yes” to others.
  • With God as your guide, a “no” is never the end. A negative is never permanent.

And even in the darkness that comes when we are unable to see how anything good could possibly come out of the bad, God’s promise in Romans 8:28 offers us the light of hope. Romans 8:28 brings the hope that God, ever faithful to His promise, works all things together for good for those who love Him...and we do!


Lord, Your Word says ‘All things—including this ________________ —work together for good to those who love You’...and I do. Amen. (prayer by Ney Bailey)  


Finding God's Path Through Your Trials by Elizabeth George – We all face hard times. That's why we turn to Jesus, where we will find hope, joy, and meaning in the journey, no matter how bumpy it seems. 

Loving God with All Your Mind – Discover six powerful Bible truths that will help you draw closer to God and know His joy and love. Round out this powerful study with the DVD and study guide. 


This week, review your autobiography. Give thanks to God for each specific time you can see His hand working bad for your good. Praise Him for His purposes and provision.

What is your first reaction when God answers “no” to your desires? Begin to see “no” as a blessing!


Thank God for His wisdom and ways, as unsearchable as they may sometimes be.

2. M.R. DeHaan and Henry G. Bosch, Bread for Each Day (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), June 23.

Jim and Elizabeth George

Jim and Elizabeth George are bestselling authors and national speakers dedicated to helping people live a life after God’s own heart. Together, they have written over 150 books with more than 14 million copies sold around the world. For over 35 years, the teachings and steadfast example of Elizabeth and Jim have helped countless men and women:

  • Simplify life by focusing on God’s priorities.
  • Appreciate God’s Word and apply it to everyday situations.
  • Respond to circumstances with confidence by seeing yourself through God’s loving eyes.
  • Increase closeness in marriage by serving and honoring each other.
  • Powerfully shape the hearts of children and teenagers.
  • Enjoy greater intimacy with God.

Learn more about Jim and Elizabeth George here.

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