Accepting "No" for an Answer

My oldest daughter's birthday is coming up next week. We asked her what she wanted, and she said "Nothing."

How unusual is that? My almost 10-year-old daughter wants nothing. I thought, "Either we've spoiled her to the extreme or she's simply learning to be content." Ah, but that was not the case. A little bit later, she informed us that it wasn't that she didn't want anything, she just didn't want anything that she knew we would give her.

You see, our daughter is deprived. We won't buy her a cell phone, a TV for her room or her own computer. She's so accident-prone that we refuse to buy her a skateboard. (We're afraid the skateboard would become very expensive once you add in all the emergency room visits.) We also said no to an iPad or an iPod touch.

When you're 10, it's hard to understand why mom and dad won't go along with what "all the other parents" are doing. And, 10-year-olds often don't care what the reason is behind  mom and dad's "no." They simply want what they want. I find many kids live in an attitude of discontent because they can't have exactly what they want.

Yet, are we any different from our kids? So often, we ask God for something and get upset when He doesn't deliver exactly what we want. We're not interested in God's reasons for not giving us what we asked for. Sometimes we lash out at God because we can't see how what is happening fits into His plan for good. Sometimes we simply don't want to go the direction God wants us to go.

Yet, how often I've found that that thing that I asked for would have kept me from an even greater blessing that God had for me. I would have missed out on knowing God's grace and strength if He had fulfilled my request.

The Bible tells us to pray about everything. Philippians 4:6 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." God wants to know the desires of our heart, but He also knows what is best for us. He sees the whole picture while we see only a small piece. God wants us to grow and rely on Him for guidance and strength.

Even when He doesn't give us what we want, we need to recognize that He gives us what is best.

The next time your child expresses disappointment because God answered their request with a "no," remind them that sometimes God has an even better thing in mind than the one for which we asked. Remind your child of a time that you said no to something in order to protect him from harm or so you could give him something else that was better. Explain that God does the same thing with our requests.

Help your kids stay focused on the fact that God loves them and wants what is best for them -- even when He says "no" to our requests.