rebelling against low expectations

What to Do When God Says “No”


Pain has been a recurring and unwelcome theme in my life.

I’ve struggled with nervous system disorder for years. Complications from this disorder have directly caused my inability to work and necessitated that I drop out of college during the semester I planned to graduate.

Everything in my life was turned upside down. Every plan I ever made for myself was painfully dismantled.

All of this happened because of pain. Pain that I had begged God to take from me.

That fact led to my bitterness and resentment. I often found myself wondering if God was listening, or if He truly cared about the pain I was experiencing. I just wanted the pain to go away. It seemed like a simple request, and I knew my God was capable of healing. Why then would He choose to withhold what I desired?

I know that I am not alone in this struggle. Pain is a part of life in a fallen world, and I know that I am only one person among countless other souls who pray for relief.

Pain is a part of life in a fallen world, and I know that I am only one person among countless other souls who pray for relief. Share on X

So, what do we do when God says “no” to requests that seem simple, good, and even right?

I have often wanted to wallow in bitterness towards God, trusting my own desires more than my Savior’s. It might sound ridiculous when I put it that way, but the feelings of doubt and despair are real and difficult.

Instead of complacently growing bitter, we must decidedly strive for hearts of contentment. I want to share with you three things that have helped me grow to be more content with the Father’s will.

1. Pursue God

We will never be content to trust a God that we don’t know. Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to trust in the Lord, but how can we trust Him if we are not willing to know Him?

Luckily, our God is a personal God who desires intimate communion with His children and wants us to know Him better. He has given us many resources to seek out His character and know Him personally. This is where faith grows. As we read of God’s goodness and experience it in our lives, we begin to trust His heart more than we trust our own. His infinitely good and all-knowing heart surely knows better than my own.

When discontentment floods your soul, pursue God and learn more about His character.

When discontentment floods your soul, pursue God and learn more about his character. Share on X

Run into His arms and learn to trust His heart.

He is worthy of trust regarding your eternity. Is He not worthy of trust with your pain?

Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

2. Cultivate Gratitude

As much as I believed that my life had been completely ruined by pain, reality spoke a very different narrative.

I still had an enormous amount of reasons to be grateful, but I was allowing my pain to distract me from those things. I was so focused on my pain that I didn’t truly see the amazing people around me who tirelessly support and love me. I was so mad about being home when I dropped out of school that I did not think to thank my parents for supporting me so selflessly. I was so upset that God was not taking away my pain, that I was never grateful for the opportunities I had to share my story with people who needed it desperately.

It often takes effort to be grateful. It’s not always easy, or even natural. It’s not always bullet-journaled and beautiful. But that does not mean it isn’t worth it.

Real, raw gratitude is hard when you are in pain, but it is oh so necessary when cultivating contentment.

Gratitude is powerful. Intentional thankfulness is spiritually and mentally healing. It refocuses our minds to see reality. There is a time for grieving pain and loss, but healing comes when we marvel at what we still have that we do not deserve.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

3. Rejoice

The word “rejoice” simply means to show that you are happy about something.

Happiness was literally the farthest things from my mind on the days when I was in the most pain. There is nothing happy about chronic pain. What reason did I have to rejoice?

As a believer, I can always rejoice in Christ’s love for me. In fact, I am commanded to in Philippians 4:4. My joy, security, and hope in Christ cannot be shaken by any physical pain I will ever feel.

I have been saved from Hell. Praise the Lord! I can rejoice in that amazing truth no matter what circumstances I am in.

No, it is not always easy to rejoice. But it is such a comfort to be joyful in something that I know will never change.

Psalms 13:5 says, “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.”

Who are you trusting?

It is still a struggle for me to reconcile God’s will with my desires. I want to be pain-free. I want to be able to go to school again. And I will keep praying for those things. But I will trust that my infinite God knows better than me.

I feel the brokenness of the world acutely. Still, I will trust the One who has never been broken, except to save my soul.

He is worthy of our trust.

Will you join me in striving to trust Him more?

Editor’s Note: this article was originally published on April 9th, 2019.

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About the author

Alathia Hayes

is a graciously forgiven college sophomore whose broken soul has been mended by the Author of life. She has a passion for helping children and other teens know how much they are loved. When she’s not studying, you will likely find her playing piano, sipping on a cup of coffee, perusing local used book shops, or participating in an epic round of Mario Kart with her brothers.

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rebelling against low expectations

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