Is that your final answer?

I love stories with happy endings. Especially those where things are headed for ruin, all hope seems lost, but then God changes the direction.  Victory.  Dreams fulfilled...exceeded!  Hallelujah!

Like Hannah, who longed for a baby.  Years of disappointment, devastation.  And then God's plan Samuel.

Like Joseph, despised by his brothers.  Wrongly accused.  Forgotten in jail.  And then God's plan unfolds...elevated to second in command and family relationships restored.

Like Peter, bold, opinionated Peter, who falls prey to fear and cowardice.  And then shame and self-doubt.  And then God's plan unfolds...bravery, leadership, loyalty to Christ to the point of ultimate self-denial.

I love these stories.

And so we all should.

But if we're not careful, we're prone to develop a fantasy approach to God's plan for our lives.  One where we write the script.  One where we propose our plans - careful to include some disappointment, of course - but ultimately, one where we expect God to sign on to the ending we've envisioned. Where we expect that setbacks and defeats are only temporary and that, eventually, we are entitled for our personal dreams to come true.

I was experiencing a "no" from God recently and I was really disappointed.  I searched His Word for some reassurance that this was not His "final answer". 

To be honest, I don't know if He gave me an answer to that question.  Maybe this is only a brief obstacle.  But it might indeed be His "final answer".

I'd like to share the passage He took me to....

2 Samuel 7.  The whole chapter.  It's a bit lengthy for a single blog post so I urge you to read it in its entirety.  For the sake of space, I'll summarize the story.

King David has been victorious over the enemies of God.  He has returned the sacred Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place in Jerusalem.  There is much rejoicing and celebration.  Good times, indeed. Verse 1 of chapter 7 says that "the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies."  Definitely a sign of God's favor.

David is so moved by God's blessing as he looks around at his military and financial success that he consults with God's prophet Nathan about building God a proper temple, instead of the temporary one then used.  Nathan agrees with the idea, indicating "the Lord is with you."  (vs 2,3)

This sounds like a great thing.  David wants to honor the Lord, to be a blessing to Him and to others.  And the spiritual head honcho concurs.

But the story takes a turn in the subsequent verses.  Verse 4 begins ..."But..."

David's plan seemed so good. So honorable.  So right.

But God said no.

And He instructed Nathan to tell David that very thing.

God said no.

And it was His final answer.  David's dream of doing this great thing for God would not be fulfilled.  God would not allow King David to build His place of dwelling because, although God had appointed him king, had blessed his efforts and would honor him forever, David was a man of war.  And God's temple would be completely a place of peace.

What a blow this must have been to David.  How this must have hurt.

I wonder if he wanted to say, "But God..."
I wonder if he was upset.  Or even angry.
I wonder if Nathan was afraid to break this news to the King.

I don't know the answers to those questions but I do know what David did.

Verses 18-24 record his actions.
His response is staggering.

Instead of anger or questioning or even disappointment, this passage tells us that David's reply is that of thanksgiving.
Even humility!

 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out[before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24 And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God.

Wow.  That is truly amazing.  A prayer of thanksgiving.  An attitude of worship.  A spirit of submission to God's sovereign rule.

My prayer is that my own heart will be lifted up in the same way.  Whatever God's plans or answers may be.  Humility.  Thanksgiving.  Worship.

Oh, and just one more thing.
About that "final answer"?

Well, "wow" doesn't even begin to describe God's response to David.
Yes, He told him "no" to building His temple.  That is true.
But look what else He said...

And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.[c] Your throne shall be established forever

Do you see what God said???? 
"Yes, David, I know you want to build me a house.  The answer to that is no.  Instead, I am going to build YOU a house.  A house that will be established forever.  I am going to bless your offspring and My love to your house will not be moved.  Ever.  And, moreover, I'm going to let one of the house that I build for you, build the house for me. "

Are you on  your face in amazement before our God?  Oh my goodness!  He is worthy of our praise! He always does above and beyond what we can ask or imagine.

And with King David, we respond...

25 And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. 26 And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.

If you or I think we are hearing God's "final answer" on something, wait.  There just might be more to the story.
For you, O Lord God have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.