rebelling against low expectations

What To Do When God Says, “No”


Somewhere in the supernatural realm of the universe, I believe that there are threads, colorful strands of fabric connecting time and space and events, intertwining, interwoven into a beautiful tapestry called God’s story.

And what an amazing story it is. A story of redemption, salvation, adoption. A story where even the darkest, blackest places on the tapestry come together into something dazzling and breathtaking.

Yet sometimes, it’s hard to see that story.

It’s easy to fight the dark strands in our own lives, isn’t it?

To push away the hands of our Creator and struggle to weave the tapestry on our own. Sometimes we mistakenly believe that we can create the best ending for our own story after all. So we snatch away pen and paper and scribble away, determined to transform our lives into a fairytale of glitter and gold.

For the last six months of my life, I heard God telling me “no.”

Sometimes in the brokenness of humanity, relationships and people just aren’t able to fit together. Like two obstinate puzzle pieces, no matter how hard we may try to force those pieces together, they will never match up.

But in my pride, in my desperation, I sat there for six months, a stubborn child, trying to will my way into showing God how badly I wanted this friendship to go on.

I snatched pen and paper into my own hands, fighting desperately to write a tale of romance and beauty in which I thought I could be forever happy. I struggled through nights of only a few solitary hours of sleep, nights filled with crying and tear-stained pillows and emotional breakdowns because I thought I could foresee and predict God’s ending to my story.

I tried to make it all work.

Yet when it became more obvious that His answer was “no” and things started falling to pieces, I tried to ignore His answer and the warning lights going on around me.

My fists were clenched, holding on tightly to my own hopes and dreams as if my life were my own, as if I could ever be a more poetic author, a more talented painter, or a more competent artist than the Creator of the universe.

It took a lot to break my clenched fists, a lot of extreme circumstances of hurt and abandonment for me to see my own stubbornness and brokenness.

But now I see the beauty and the benefits of going through life with unclenched fists, open and ready to accept whatever and whomever the Lord will give and take away.

In a way, the Scriptures are full of people who lived with unclenched fists, people who lost homes and families and careers for Christ. These heroic men and women understood that God’s plan often differs dramatically from our own dreams and hopes, and sometimes He says “no” to the possessions and people we hold most dearly.

The rich young ruler understood this all too well in Matthew 19:21-22, which reads:

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

In a way, we can sometimes act similarly to this rich young ruler, clinging to our earthly loves, afraid that God might say “no” and remove those dearest from our lives.

Yet too often we forget that the Person directing our life song isn’t simply another fallible human being.

The One who composes each incident in our lives is the Creator of the Universe who sent His Son down to earth that we might have a restored relationship and an eternity with Him. He holds the world together, blending beautiful strains of music into one powerful, awe-inspiring melody shouting of His glory and our good.

When the Psalmist wrote, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit, You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God,” (Psalm 31:5), he knew full-well that he was committing his spirit into the hands of the Almighty God.

Somewhere in the supernatural realm of the universe, I also believe that the past six months were part of God’s plan for me, a small section of my tapestry, a few pages in my life story, a small refrain in my song, teaching me to unclench my fists and to commit my spirit to the One who is forever faithful.

I’m learning that living with open hands and an open heart is a daily commitment, a daily prayer to the God who hears, and a daily surrender of myself, knowing that the ending, which will be the best part, is yet to come.

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Photo courtesy of Nefatron and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Amanda Chang

is a sophomore studying Intercultural Studies at Biola University. She is interested in pursuing missions and writes occasionally at To Embrace the Nations.


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  • I used to make my own plans. Then God changed them. I tried again. Again, He told me, “No.” I ended up asking Him what His plans were, that I might try them first and save time and heartache. Works pretty well =^D

  • If I’m going to be completely honest then that was my life for six almost seven months and then it ended a little over a month ago. Strangely now this is one of the happiest times of my life. It didn’t start out like that but that’s how it’s been for a few weeks. I know God is going to use that experience for good and to help me and others.

  • I’ve experienced a lot of “NO”s in my life. At the time it seemed I would never get through it. Sometimes (even when it was still extremely hard or devastating) I took it better than other times. Looking back, I can see that those times were for my own good and I can appreciate it.

  • Thinking about this a little more, I realize that I was in a similar position. I felt that God was telling me to give up something that I really didn’t want to give up. I struggled with it for a long time and just a week ago, I finally gave it up to God. I’ll have to admit, it’s not easy, but I just have to trust that God knows best and that He’s got my back.

    • Yep…I’ve experienced the same thing here…and learned that I just have to trust God and let him drive! 🙂

  • Fantastic analysis of scripture. Our task is to be obedient to God, plain and simple, regardless of the circumstance. How challenging this can be at times!

    ps, which part of speech/debate do you do?? I loved doing policy back during high school!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this!
    I also had a time like that about 4 or 5 months ago. I was in a secret relationship for a couple months with a young man that I met online, and those were some of the most miserable months of my life. I knew I was wrong, I needed to be open with people about it, I needed to say “No”, but…I was letting him rule my life. When I finally did start saying “No” to him, and opening up to people, and letting God take control of my life, I had such freedom. Life is so much better when you stop fighting and surrender, and just let God take control. We make ourselves go through a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache just because we think we know better than God does. May we all learn to trust God with even the smallest parts of our lives, and allow him to make beautiful masterpieces of us all!
    God bless! 😀

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →