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The Healing Power of No

Practicing the Christian act of nay saying.


What is a two-letter word that we often don’t like to hear? It is a word you have probably used on your kids, maybe a word used toward your dog, and even to your friends. The word I am talking about is “No.”

When you hear the word “no,” often you are going to associate the word in a negative way. “No” comes out when something bad happens or is something that prevents a bad thing from happening. For a young man asking a girl out on a date, “no” is a bad thing for him. For a parent telling their child “no cookies before dinner” is preventing the child from having a cookie and warning them that it will not be good if they do.

There are a lot of cases where we have been told “no” and did not like it. We probably felt restrained in those times or even rejected. Let’s face it, “no” is not a fun word.

The Bible tells us that God says “no” also, but the difference is God’s “no” is not a rejection or restraining word for us. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When God says “no” there is a healing power to it, because God is saying “no” to the things that would lead us to hurt and despair.

When God says “no,” he also invites us to do the same, he invites us to say “no” to worry, anger, and the world, because when we do it begins healing for true presence and relationship that are found only in God.

So let’s think of what God has said “no” to in your life that has provided healing and what you might need to say “no” to as well.

Saying ‘No’ to Worry, Heals Us for Presence

The Preacher begins Ecclesiastes 9 with a claim that we are not in control of our lives.

(Read Eccl. 9:1-3)

Anything awaits us. It could be good or bad. No matter who we are, no matter our age, race, gender, identity, finances, job, or talents, we do not know what tomorrow brings. However, we try so hard to be in control of that. We make plans in hopes to have some sort of grounding on tomorrow and the future, but all we can do is expect, because anything can happen.

The University of California held a study with mice. They had a hypothesis that mice were anxious creatures and that when they are placed in an open space they will do whatever they can to escape it. Think about it, you don’t usually see a mouse or a rat hanging out in the open. They aren’t chilling on your couch watching TV nor are they by the swimming pool enjoying some summer cheese. These little guys love to be in dark, enclosed, spaces because that removes many variables of their possible death.

When I first read that story, I thought was very interesting, and then I realized that story related to me too. I am someone who wants to remove every possible variable that can be negative towards me. I want to be in control of the situation because at least then I feel I can have an idea of what’s going on.

There are areas in our lives that we want to be in control of. Maybe it’s our finances, or our job, perhaps it’s our family, or even the church we go to. Whatever it is, we all worry about circumstances and try our best to fight them.

You don’t need to worry. In fact, God uses Ecclesiastes and wisdom of the Preacher to teach us how to say “no” to worry. When we worry, our minds are never in the right place. They are never present, because they are always focused on something hypothetical that has not happened yet. When you worry, your mind is not on the people or the place in front of you. It is on something not real in a possible future.

God frees us to say “no” to worry and control, so it can heal us to be present now. To not worry about the future, but to see the beauty of what God has given today. Jesus himself reminds us of this in Matthew 6:25. God is going to take care of you. Why? Because God takes care of his children, his beloved. He has taken care of us in the past, in Scripture, and throughout history, and he will take care of us today.

Saying ‘No’ to Anger, Heals Us for Relationship

God also says “no” anger, because that heals us for relationship.

(Read Eccl. 10:4)

The Hebrew word marpē which translates to “calmness” and can also be used for gentleness, composure, soothing, and pacifying. Now going a little deeper, marpē is derived from the root word rāpā which means “to heal.” This word from the Preacher is not about saving face or looking more mature. It is about healing.

Even when the person that has gone against us is a fool or immature. Even when we rightly so could condemn them. The Preacher says remain calm, endure, because the goal is not our pride or vindication, its healing.

(Read James 1:2, 19 and Luke 23:34)

Let me be clear, if your situation is abusive and dangerous then get out of there for your safety. Sometimes all we can do is remove ourselves from these situations and hope healing comes in the future from God. However, if in other situations that are not abusive or dangerous, we are called to endure and to love those who are against us.

In Marvel’s Captain America Civil War, the villain of the movie is not someone who is diabolical or a person who wants to watch the world burn. He is a husband, son, and father who lost his family in a tragedy. He let his bitterness and his anger consume him that led him to try and end all heroes. Near the end of the movie as Ironman and Captain America are fighting against one another. The Black Panther who has sought out this man for killing his dad listens to his reasons and after pausing and lowering his weapon he says, “Vengeance has consumed you, it has consumed them, and I am done letting it consume me.”

Anger, bitterness, pride, and rage only divides us. It separates us from our enemies and tells us we can only be with people who are like us and treat us nicely. Unfortunately, this worldly view infiltrated the church a long time ago and has become ingrained in our culture that is even more divided today. Those who believe differently are ousted, those who act differently are excluded. Those who upset our routine, those who have a different voice, those who anger us and cause us frustration because of their foolishness. We remove and burn bridges of relationship.

The church is called to be a mosaic of people who confess Jesus as Lord. We are called to live a certain way that counters the world and we are discerning and diligent in how we act only as a response to being saved. Yet somehow this has gotten lost in our anger and frustration with the world. It’s chaotic, confusing, and muddy.

God calls us to endure, God calls us to be present among people who are foolish and arrogant. Because God has been present with us when we have been foolish and arrogant. There is no one in this world who has not been the enemy of someone else and most of all the enemy of God.

(Read Rom. 3:23)

Key word is ALL. You and me, we fell short. But through God’s love, God said “no” to bitterness. Despite our sin, despite our rebellion, despite our flawed views and choices, he endured and loved us and says “no” to anger, that we might be healed for relationship.

Brothers and sisters, when we say “no” to anger, we recognize that we are freed and healed to grow in relationship with one another. That there is more of a chance for healing than there would be if we gave into it. We recognize our real enemy is sin and how it has encased our brother or sister who is living foolishly in it. When we say “no” to anger, we live into God’s grace where we can think of our enemies as our friends.

Saying ‘No’ to the World, Heals Us for God

Both anger and worry are key players in today’s world. Anger at people with different beliefs than us is tied into the fear that those differences will hurt us. The world wants us to believe that, the world wants us to be separated, to be on our own. But God says “no” to this.

When the world was dark, chaotic, and void, God said “no” when he said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). When the world was stuck in sin God said “no” because, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God says “no” to the world and gives us the same chance that we may be healed to be with God.

(Read Eccl. 12:12-14)

At the end of the day, we are left with option to say “yes” to God or the world and in turn we say “no” to the other. When you say “yes” to God you are saying “no” to anger and worry and “yes” to relationship and presence. What could be better than relationship and presence with the Creator who loves us and saves us from bitterness and wrath, from fear and control.

In the late 1400’s there was man by the name of Thomas More, who went on to be a person of great influence. He was the counselor of Henry VIII. The friend of the prominent writer Erasmus, but more than that he was man who embodied what it meant to say “no” to the world and “yes” to God.

More enjoyed life, he took part in celebrations, but he did not put cosmic importance to them. He did not put importance to his job, who he served, or how he had fun. His heart was all for God. In his meditations the main thing he said that stands out is to “Gladly be thinking of God.” How many of us can say we are gladly thinking of God daily? How many of us think about God at all on a daily basis? Sure, we may think about God when we are here together, or on a Wednesday night, but is it daily? Is it at work? Is it at school?

The world is a challenging place that we need to take seriously. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, that are not inherently bad but can keep us from thinking about God. Sometimes they pile up and before you know it our concern is more focused on the world than on God. When we say “no” to the world, we are choosing to focus on God instead. We find time to think of God, to be with God. No matter what the world offers God comes first.

God is telling us it is not about what we know or read, it is not about how we engage, it is about seeking him first. Do we do the things we do because it lines up with who God is? Is it because God is walking with us in it? Or is it because it is the latest trend? When we say “no” to the world we are not following the trends and wisdom it offers, we are following God.


Ecclesiastes is a book that clears out everything the world tells us about religion and God. It bathes and cleanses us from false ideas about religion, wisdom, and faith. It frees us to look not at buildings and institutions but at God. It is a reminder that we are denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus to the very end. No matter the wisdom, no matter the knowledge, the worry, the feeling, whatever it is God, calls us to remember he is first, he has healed us from our worry, and our anger. He has healed us from our sin. God has said “no” to the world, by saving the world and loving it. May we go and do likewise.

Benjamin Fountain is currently the pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Lacy Lakeview, TX, where he has served in a multitude of roles since 2016.

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