Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
You'd think if God answered anyone's prayers, St. Paul would be at the top of the list. Much of the New Testament came through his pen. An entire continent heard the gospel because of his tireless zeal and passion for Christ. The Book of Acts records multiple examples of God's miraculous works and healing through Paul's ministry.
Yet, when he asked God to remove his thorn, God said, "No." And the take-home message here is, sometimes God says no. Even to His apostles.
Scripture records many reasons God says "No." Sometimes, as in this chapter in 2 Corinthians, He says it because He can use us more effectively with our thorn than without it. Sometimes He says it because it's in our best interest if we don’t get what we want. Sometimes "No" means "Not yet." And, yes, sometimes He says it because of our willful and unrepented sin.
What do we do when God doesn't give us the answers we want to hear? Do we grouse and accuse Him of not caring? Or like St. Paul, can we trust our heavenly Father's great love for us? Can we be content with thorns, knowing when we are weak, we are strong in Him?
Of course, that's all easy to say. It's easy to theorize. And not so easy to live. Nevertheless, the mature Christian understands God's, "No" -- whatever the reason -- is always rooted in His love for us. And His grace is always sufficient to carry us through our heartache and disappointment.
How do we know that?
Scripture says so.