As I’ve studied the Bible, I’ve learned that God always answers every prayer, though not every answer is yes. Of course, He sometimes does say yes in short order, and the provision is undeniably clear. But sometimes He must say no, and sometimes we don’t see an answer right away, which means He’s telling us to wait. If we accept Romans 8.28 – “that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him” – we can eventually understand the necessity of the no and wait answers even if we wish things could be different.
If we’re doing our job as parents, we’ll seek to communicate with our kids as He does. That means we must discern which answer – yes, no, or wait – to provide in various situations, and our motivation in every case must be for our kids’ ultimate good. We can’t always say yes, because we must protect them from physical, emotional, or spiritual harm they may be unable to discern for themselves. But when we say no or wait, we must have a legitimate reason fueled by a desire to provide for their long-term well-being.
I recently found myself in a situation like this with one of my daughters. She was offered an unexpected babysitting job and desperately wanted me to say yes because she loves caring for children and had been told the family “really needed” a sitter right away. But we’d never met anyone in the family. I considered saying yes because my daughter’s been babysitting for several church friends for about a year, and I trust her abilities. But I didn’t have peace about allowing her to go, sight unseen, to a stranger’s home, and my husband agreed with my concerns. So we ultimately decided to wait – reserving the right to ultimately say no if necessary – until we could meet and vet the family.
My daughter was disappointed and frustrated. Just as when God must tell any of us no or wait, she didn’t fully understand our reasons and didn’t necessarily agree with us. I could have said, “No means no,” which is sometimes appropriate (if delivered in a loving tone) with a young child, and left it at that. But my daughter is a teen, so I felt she deserved to hear the logical reasons even though she (understandably) wanted to refute them. Then we used the situation as an opportunity to provide guidance and instruction by helping her create a resume as well as a list of questions to ask the family. She and I will meet with them soon and use our impressions – as well as their feelings about her appropriateness for their family’s needs – to decide on our final answer.
We can’t always say yes. Our kids won’t always be happy with our decisions. But if we keep the lines of communication open – if we explain and guide rather than simply mandate – our relationships with them will remain strong over time. Then they’ll be able to accept the no or wait – and they’ll eventually understand the reasons, too.
Photo Credit: Greens MPs
Photo Credit: Greens MPs