This has been an interesting couple of weeks. I wrote about a friend of mine, and the “mountain” she was facing, not long ago. Well, the “mountain” was, in fact, a prison sentence, and two weeks ago today, though countless prayers were lifted up asking for probation over prison, God said “no”. My friend was sentenced to three years in the state penitentiary.

What does it mean when God says “no”? I’ve talked with several friends who are having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that they prayed, in deep faith, believing with everything they had in them that God would spare our friend from prison and spare her family from being separated. Couldn’t He have done it? Isn’t He big enough? Was their faith not strong enough? I think when we’re faced with times like this, we have to remember that God has said “no” before…not just to us, but to His own Son. His Son was blameless and perfect, had never committed any sin at all, and yet He was condemned. He asked God to take the cup from Him, but God said “no”. If He said “no” to Jesus, who are we to think that He might not say “no” to us, too?

The fact of the matter is that, while being a Christian saves us from eternal consequences of our sin, it does NOT exempt us from the earthly consequences. Sometimes, God deems it necessary for our healing and growth to go through the consequences, as painful as they may be. Even though it is never in His plan for our lives, He knows that we’ll sin and He knows the best way for us to learn from it. He also promises to work all of our mess out for good if we’ll trust Him with it (Romans 8:28) and help make “beauty from ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).

While all this sounds great, it is, of course, really hard to do! Oh, but when we do, God can do AMAZING things through us. My sweet friend is facing one day at a time, scared and missing her family, but determined to bring God glory and do the hard work that He has willed her to do. She is being obedient and, in doing so, is already affecting those around her, bringing His light into a dark and hopeless place.

I didn’t want her to have to endure this trial. When God says “no”, it would be very easy to decide not to trust Him anymore. But, I’ve found that when I’m believing God, it’s His sovereignty that I’m believing; not just believing in His ability to do a thing, but believing more in His goodness and ability to know and do what is best. If I had been writing the story of her life, I would not have included this chapter. However, I don’t know the ending of the story. God does. He holds the whole of her life in His hands and He sees that it wouldn’t be complete without this chapter. Along with her and her family, I am trusting His sovereign authorship.