A Painful Mercy

Sometimes God says no to our most earnest requests. We plead, we bargain, we pour out our hearts’ deepest desire and still he doesn’t give us the answer we long for. Other times his answer is wait. And sometimes we’ve already waited an excruciatingly long time as it is.

These answers of no and wait—and wait some more—can really hurt. After all, we’re not talking about casual, wouldn’t-it-be-nice kinds of requests. We’re talking about earnest requests. Requests born of desperation, heartache, and deep need. So when our deepest desires are not granted, the accompanying pain and disappointment run deep as well.

What we may not realize is that God’s painful no or wait  may in fact be a painful mercy. He alone knows all the results a yes might bring. He alone knows the future. When it appears he’s withholding our heart’s desire, he instead may be saving us from an even greater grief.

Many of you know that our family has been experiencing a season of waiting for quite some time now. During this period, the answer no has been our portion time and again. We’ve dealt with heartache over and over and have not understood why God is answering the way he is.

But what if we—and what if you in your situation—could see into the future, could see what God sees. Maybe our family would see a turn of events that would be more devastating than the current answer of no or keep waiting. How about you? What might you see in your future? I think we all might see that God’s no may in fact be a painful mercy.

It all boils down to trust, doesn’t it? Even when the answers we want don’t come, will we trust God? Will we continue to believe that he loves us and has good things in store for us? Will we acknowledge that he may be planning to give us something even better than our original request?

Don’t get me wrong—trust is not a pat answer. Trust doesn’t negate the pain. But it does bring peace. It does keep hope alive. It does acknowledge that God alone knows the future and that he will indeed walk with us through times of painful mercy.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

*Have you experienced a painful mercy in your life?

*Flickr photo by minniemouseaunt


  1. Trust is a willful walk; I’m walking it now. There are a few situations in my life that require my faithful responses to God’s “wait”, even though I can’t imagine why/what in the world he’s waiting for . . .

    Sometimes it helps me to continually verbalize my trust of God, along with immersing myself in scriptures that point to the trustworthy/faithfulness of God.

    • Elaine, love how you expressed it — trust is a willful walk. So very true. Thanks for sharing the things you do that help you. I’m sure they’ll help others as they read them here. Bless you as you walk your willful walk of trust right now.

  2. Judith Robl says

    The fact that God knows what is around every corner has been my comfort in trying times. I’ve never taken anything to him in prayer to have him say “Oh, really! I didn’t know that.” Generally what I hear is “I’m glad you finally came to me with it.” And then sometimes, there is a “But, daughter, we aren’t going to handle it your way right now.”

    • Judith, thanks for sharing the things God has said to you at certain times. Amazing how we can see situations with new eyes when we look at things from his perspective.

  3. annonymous says

    Hi Cheryl, Your new “digs” are very attractive. I found and read it today for first time. I look forward to your writings and have missed reading your blog. Am enjoying the face book family contacts also….still becoming acquainted with FB.
    Wishing the best for you and your new adventure. Love and Blessings. Norma

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