Loved When He Tells Me No!


 “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:18-19 NIV) 

The scene was one straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. A man possessed with hundreds of demons. Jesus stilling the storm. Pigs were somersaulting off of a cliff. All the while, the townspeople were furious at the loss of their prized possessions. So hurt that they kicked Jesus out of their town. Picture that. The One that came to save was sent away. The One who would be their sacrifice was told to skedaddle along. The Messiah was told to move on. 

They didn't notice that the man that once terrorized the city was sitting next to them, clothed and in his right mind. The man that they tried to chain. The one that kept them up at night was transformed right in front of them, but they could not see or did not want to see Jesus do any more ‘damage’ to them or their city. They couldn't risk it financially to have Jesus near. Yet, it wasn't the townspeople’s reaction that made this story unique. It was the prayer request Jesus refused to answer that caused the story to sit on its head. 

Rejected by the people in the city, the formerly demon-possessed man attempts to change his life. He wants to connect with the One that made him whole. He does what every true believer desires to do, get closer to Jesus. In fact, that may be the reason why you liked this devotional. You said, “I want to get a better relationship with God. I want to see Him more clearly.” So you, like the now healed man, come to Jesus and say, “Let me go with You. Your people will be my people. Your way will be my way. I’m down for whatever, just don’t leave me with these folks!” 

What should have been open arms. What we expected was a “Hey, certainly!” was quite the opposite. The first prayer request the man makes in his right mind was turned away with a hard NO! 

Somehow, we see a glimpse of love nestled in that no. Romans 8:28 claims that  God is always working things out for our good. Jesus, in saying no, made the man realize the power of his deliverance. Maybe he thought that by being in proximity to Jesus that he would be a better person. That's a lesson about the power of God. He can simply say a word, and we can be healed. Just a word and whatever ailed us no longer has control—freedom with only a phrase. 

The story also teaches another lesson about the love of God. In Jesus saying no, it revealed a bigger picture for this man’s life. He was to share with others what Jesus had done for him. The dilemma of walking with Jesus vs. walking for Jesus was at play. Jesus said I can do more with you if you go than if you stayed with me. The unanswered prayer request became an official call to action. Jesus loved the man but loved the people that didn’t know Him as well. 

Jesus tells the man no so more people could have the opportunity to say yes. By turning the man away, he had a chance to point others to Him. Here is the lesson in this story. Sometimes, we ask God for things, and He says no. Something that we need. Vitally essential items and He still says no! In those moments, there is a tendency to think that God no longer loves us. This story teaches us that there is a bigger picture to His yeses and nos. There is a loftier plan than what we can conceptualize. And the beauty of the text is, when Jesus returned to that town (in fact, Decapolis means ten cities), “all the people were amazed.” 

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15) 

Thought Questions

  1. Have you been frustrated by God, not answering a prayer? 
  2. Have you ever felt the frustration of an unanswered prayer request? How have you seen God do something bigger and possibly better in place of what you asked?