When they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. (Acts 16:6)
God is wiser than I am, and what is immediately good actually may not be eternally good. And what is eternally good isn’t always immediately good, but painful. Sometimes when God says no, we will say that God didn’t answer our prayers. But what we really mean is that we didn’t like the answer. We say, “God, will You do this?” and God says no. So we conclude that He doesn’t love us. But the truth is, God said no because He does love us. He has a different purpose in mind.
We find an example of this in Acts 16 when Paul was concerned for the churches in Asia Minor and wanted to revisit them to check on their progress. There was one small problem, however. God had a different plan. Although Paul made every attempt to go to Asia, God basically said no: “After [Paul and Silas] had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (verse 7).
The Spirit did not permit them. I am intrigued by that statement because I wonder how the Holy Spirit conveyed that truth to them. Was it simply a lack of peace? Have you ever been heading into a situation in which everything looked good outwardly, but in your heart you had a sense of doubt as to whether it was good? Whatever it was, you didn’t know whether you really should be doing it.
And sometimes the way God says no is as simple as a door being closed. God has His timing. In the case of Paul and Silas, His timing wasn’t right for them to go where they wanted to go. God wanted them to go to a different place. And the same can be true for you as well.