It’s simple, my little “war room” – a tiny corner of my closet. The only part that’s consistently clean, in fact. Two walls meet and share a few inches, adorned with motivational quotes on multi-sized canvases- gifted to me by various friends and relatives. They figure I love that sort of thing. They’re right. Two tattered pieces of notebook paper are secured to the walls- a cheap, reused thumbtack holding each one in its place. The uneven edges display my lack of care in ripping the pages out of their notebook binding. Being neat isn’t very important when you’re desperate for Jesus. In the moment, I didn’t care. I just wanted to start filling the two blank pages.
One page was labeled “prayers” and the other “answered prayers”. My list of prayer requests was so lengthy that the words began fighting one another for space. Then I looked over at my list of answered prayers- much shorter, slightly disheartening.”Don’t grow discouraged”, I thought. God isn’t finished working yet.
So there I sat- day in and day out, talking to God for the entire summer. Short breaks happened in the form of showers, mealtimes, sleeping and writing. Then it was back to my cushion on the floor- a cute little couch pillow, resting in the corner. My knees grew weary. My back grew achy. My faith wavered.
But I kept praying, kept hoping.
What brought me to this place? I wish I could say it was simply my strong, daily commitment to steadfastness. I wish I could say all things were good and I just wanted to pray without ceasing. Nope. Another wrench had been thrown my way. If it was a scheme from the enemy, I’d like to think it was because he has grown weary with attacking my faith, only for me to draw nearer to the cross. Nonetheless, it happened- another test. My relationship was suddenly taken away- not in the form of an unexpected death this time- but an unexpected loss, nonetheless.
I failed to understand how God would see it fit to allow a relationship that glorified Him to become extinct. But one thing I knew (one thing I know) is that I will never allow moments of suffering to lead me to sink. I’ll choose God, even in the deepest waters. Stay anchored in faith and trust His better plan, I will. And so I prayed for understanding, like the good Word directs us to.
Then a thought penetrated my mind with great power. I had been so caught up in planning for the future in my relationship that I neglected to be intentional about the purpose God called me to in this season of my life. He created me to encourage others. I have always known this truth. Focusing on using my spiritual gift for a project that could encourage other women had been on my heart for a long time. But in the midst of the Holy Spirit directing me, I selfishly postponed my assignment. “I’ll establish my future first and I’ll get to working on this later,” I thought. But when God’s plan prevailed, I regained focus on my mission. No distractions from myself or others. Just daily dates with my sweet Jesus.
I began praying for Him to use me in a mighty way. To refocus my attention- less self-consumption, more extending encouragement. My pity party for myself was transformed into an uplifting undertaking for others – writing a book. And as my focus shifted from self to others, my heart began to heal. Little by little, my less than impressive, shabby page of answered prayers began to fill up. I didn’t know what His plan was…But I kept praying, kept hoping.
In due season, He used my suffering for good, like He always does. My prayers were answered, my blessings increased. In a few short months, a shattered situation was rebuilt more beautifully than it was before. Many of the prayers I prayed were answered, plus a few unexpected blessings- a healed heart, progress towards my purpose, a chance to uplift others and a pleasantly unanticipated encounter with a kind and loving gentleman as I was quietly writing my book in the bookstore- (a bonus blessing that has kept my face smiling and my heart skippin’ a beat, every day since).
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Maybe sometimes God allows parts of our lives to fall apart so that we are forced to rely on Him to be the glue that molds it back together. Maybe He wants us to remember that He is our first love. Or perhaps He desires for us to fulfill the purpose He has for us, instead being hyper-focused on the plans we have for ourselves. He wants us to experience those lowly places where we can truly learn what it feels like to rest in His promises. It is easiest to rest in His promises in the moments when His promises are all you have. So regardless of what is leading you to doubt Him, I encourage you…
Keep praying, keep hoping.
There is a purpose in what He is doing. And I assure you that He is way better at being God than we ever could be. It doesn’t matter if you have a war room, are praying at your desk, behind the wheel, or in the shower. I encourage you to pray fervently and watch Him reveal the answers in His way and His time.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.