I remember the exact moment when I felt as though my prayers were just these wasted monologues vanishing into thin air. I was convinced that after months and months, hundreds and hundreds of prayers for my daughter Jaelyn, the Lord wasn’t going to answer them and heal her. Every morning I walked into her room hoping that it was the day she could breathe on her own. But every night I put her down with her oxygen and plead the same thing I did the night before: “Please take this from her. I can’t do this anymore.”
Did David Feel the Same Way?
I can’t help but wonder if David felt like I did while he was fleeing for his life (1 Samuel 19-30) and when he penned Psalm 13:
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
On the Run and yet Still Praying
David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), lived on the run and in hiding from Saul for up to four years, despite God’s promise to give him the throne (1 Samuel 16). Some of us look at his situation and wonder how he ever got through such a hard season of trials and tribulations without losing faith. After all, four years is a long time! More importantly, why would David go on praying when there seemed to be no answer to the cries of his heart?
Coincidentally–or better–in such godly fashion, we find the answer at the end of this same psalm of lament. Beginning in Psalm 13:5, it says:
But I trust in your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
For he has been good to me.
Never Cease to Pray…and Praise
While the answer is probably simpler said than done, it does not diminish it from being truth. David was able to pray without ceasing because he was able to praise without ceasing. We see his heart clearly in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
David’s focus on God, His kingdom, and steadfast love outweighed the turmoil he personally faced. His life exemplified what Philippians 4:6 speaks of: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” He did not stop at praying and petitioning, but continued pouring out unrelenting thanksgiving to God.
David ultimately would see the prophetic word from Samuel come to fruition as he took the throne and became king. Even if he never had become king, I believe he still would have praised the Most High until his very last breath…
God Used My Prayers to Sift Me
Speaking of breath, remember my daughter Jaelyn? Finally, after fifteen months of testing, monitoring, and oxygen, she was miraculously healed one night while a friend in India prayed over her. After the excitement of her healing settled, I wondered why his prayer had been answered right away, but not mine? It didn’t take long for me to realize that God did hear my prayers. The timing of Jae’s healing had nothing to do with me. He used that season to teach and sift me so that I could see past myself into His heart. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says,
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Did you catch that?
The revelation of Jesus Christ through trials results in praise in this life and throughout eternity. To put it simply:
When we set our eyes upon Him, our hearts and prayers become Christ-centered.
When our lives become Christ-centered, we never cease to pray and seek more of Him.
When we seek Him, we will always find Him.
When we find Him, we will never cease to praise Him.
With strong faith, leadership skills, and an unprecedented power of speech, he became one of the most influential individuals in the history of this country. As a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, it comes to no surprise that every third Monday in January our nation recognizes the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Through his powerful speeches, demonstrations, and writings, King led the masses in an examination of the heart. He challenged individuals to evaluate their perception and treatment of others. He preached on having a spirit of service, peace, and love rather than that of entitlement, anger, and bitterness. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man with a great message, but most importantly, he served a great God.
If we examined all of King’s accomplishments as well as all his trials, it would amaze us, but I’m afraid we would then lose the heart and focus of what he was trying to convey: “We must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all our actions.” Make no mistake, God had His hand upon Martin Luther King, Jr. God used MLK in a mighty way because he was willing to serve the Lord. King’s actions were a result of having a heart of a servant and the power of an almighty God.
“… Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
A Challenge for Us
Can you imagine the transformation throughout the world if each one of us was willing to serve and love God and one another as Martin Luther King Jr. did? Let this challenge us: that today and every day we will stand strong in faith and in truth, spreading the Gospel throughout the nations and leaving God’s mark on this world just as King did. Whether God calls you to serve a people locally or internationally, God is ready to use you in a mighty way. You just have to say “yes.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
“Everybody can be great. Because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from being a mom over the last six and a half years, it’s that my words have a powerful impact in the lives of my four kiddos. Almost every syllable that has come out of my mouth has been absorbed, regurgitated, and spewed out in some form or fashion by them, whether good or bad. It constantly reminds me of Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” You see, as parents we have been given an incredible opportunity to build our children up through our teaching, prayer, and encouraging words, but at the same time, we have the ability to speak words that may cause confusion, anger, disappointment, or pain. If you’re like me, this somewhat heavy truth makes you wonder, “How do I keep from saying the wrong thing? How do I speak life into my children?”
Well, beloved, the sweetest answer lies in 2 Peter 1:3:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
“Everything we need.”
Let those words just sink in for a moment. Everything…
Friend, God would have never entrusted those “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) babes to us without first giving us the wisdom, strength, self-control, and understanding we need to raise them.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
He truly has given us everything we need to do this parenting thing according to His will, but the part that we sometimes miss is that we must be willing to seek out and accept His help. In other words, in order for us to speak gentle words full of love, kindness, and goodness to our children, we must first be filled with those things. And the only way to be filled with those is to meditate on His Word day and night as we draw closer to Him.
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”
The foundation of our parenting needs to be Scripture and Spirit. The more we seek God, the more we understand Him. The more we understand Him, the easier it is to submit to Him. When we submit to Him, His truth transforms our hearts. When our hearts are transformed, our lives will change. When our lives change, we change the lives of our children in a mighty and awesome way.
Speak Life through the Word
So, what do you say, friend?
Are you ready to speak words of truth and life into our kids?
If so, let’s start with letting Him first fill our lives through His perfect Word.
“… For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”
My brother and I had gone to California one summer to spend some time with our cousins and do all the fun things like camping, catching lizards, going to Sea World, and of course, the beach! I loved the ocean and to swim, so naturally putting the two together by swimming in the ocean was a dream come true for this landlocked gal. I was super excited and ready to tackle the waves with my boogie board, even though I hadn’t actually done it before. My older brother and two cousins jumped in and I quickly followed.
What happened next may never leave my memory…
I had been getting more and more comfortable with the waves and started venturing out farther and farther. I hadn’t passed my brother and could see my uncle on the shore, so I felt perfectly safe. To this day I don’t know if I wasn’t paying attention or if I just fell off my board, but the next thing I knew, I was underwater with the roaring waves crashing over me. Every time I tried to come up for air, another wave crashed down. I began to panic as I looked around underwater and realized I didn’t even know which way was up. The waves just kept tossing me and all I could see was bubbles and murky water. I never had the ability to hold my breath very long and I was quickly running out of air. I didn’t know what to do and I felt hopeless and alone.
The hardest part to swallow about my experience was:
it wasn’t true. Now, don’t get me wrong, I truly thought my life was over at the time. The reality was that I was probably only under two feet of water. It all lasted no more than fifteen seconds. Still, I thought I had taken my last breath.
At the time, my seven-year-old mind didn’t think about the fact that other people were caring for me and would not have let me drown. Nor did it cross my mind that if I just relaxed and stopped fighting the waves, I might have surfaced more quickly. I didn’t realize those truths because, frankly, I didn’t know any better. Having children of my own, I can now comprehend fully how ridiculous their minds are at times. It’s not their fault, it’s simply that they have a narrow scope of life experience, knowledge, and truth which leads them to overreact at times. They don’t always truly understand when they are alone or helpless…But then again…do we?
Waves of trials and struggles
I can’t say that I’ve physically been tossed and overtaken by waves since that day, but I can say that I have felt that way emotionally and spiritually at times. There have been seasons in my life where it seems like I can’t catch a break or that I am completely disoriented as to how to get out of the tides of confusion and overwhelming waves of trials and struggles. I have felt lost in the depths of my soul, not understanding the “why” or how to get my head above water. I have been in the place where I am so focused on trying to survive that I didn’t realize that what was drowning me was my own fear and control.
The only good that seems to comes from being in the darkness of the deep is you see the light more easily. When you have hit what seems to be your version of the bottom, you finally know which direction is up. Something so sweet and amazing happens at that point when you realize that you cannot do it in your own strength, you relinquish control, accept that you need help, and turn your eyes upward to Him.
“He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.”
–Psalm 107:29 (NIV)
the Lord on high is mightier than the noise and force of the crashing waves. He is sitting on the beach watching your every move. He is waiting for you to call upon Him, to seek His strength, His truth, and His help. Once you turn your gaze from your own circumstances around you, focus on Him and fully trust that He is in control, those roaring whitecaps become small waves hitting your ankles. They may not disappear, but you become so focused on Him and His desires that you no longer fear the waves themselves, you fear enduring those waves without Him.
maybe you feel alone or that you are being tossed to and fro in this season of life. I cannot tell you whether those are tidal waves or simple breaks in the water no more than I can tell you how long you will endure them. What I can tell you is that there is hope in the One who is greater than any storm. He sees you in the deepest of deep. God is a God of promises and He is faithful to His word.
“When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.”
– Isaiah 43:2
Choose to stop fighting the waves. Instead, rest in His embrace.
Choose to stop searching for air. Instead, search for Him.
Choose to stop looking around with your eyes. Instead, try looking through His.
You may not see Him at times, but He always sees you.
Picture yourself alone in an empty, darkened room. Everywhere you look, all you see is the color black. You keep opening and closing your eyes, hoping they will eventually adjust to the darkness, but nothing changes. You can’t even make out the outline of your own hand as you lift it right in front of your face. But as you begin to put your hand down, something grabs your attention in front of you. It’s so far away you can barely see it, but you’re confident in what it is…light. It’s barely visible, but undoubtedly it’s there. At first you are filled with excitement knowing it exists, but then you realize that you are no longer alone, that there is something or someone in the room with you. It is so dark you are unsure of who or what it is, but you can feel a presence and it is not one of comfort or peace.
The light once again grabs your attention and is drawing you in, but you know you’ll have to fight walking through the darkness to get there. You decide to risk leaving your comfort in pursuit of the light. As you begin to take that first step, you bump your elbow. It doesn’t feel good, but you’re more focused on your purpose than what is getting in your way, so you press on. You are able to take a couple more steps without running into anything, but as you get closer to the light, the presence in the room gets stronger and closer, and it gets harder and harder to navigate the darkness. As you encounter more and more resistance and obstacles, the harder it is to keep going. At one point, you even stop in your tracks and start to wonder if the light is really worth it.
Friend, this is the feeling of spiritual warfare. It exists. It is not only something that is very real, but something we can count on facing when we decide to seek a life following Christ.
Now, don’t be misled. Every single person on this earth will face pain and heartache; that’s the consequence of living in a sinful world. But there is a difference between encountering daily struggles derived from fleshly desires and disobedience, then there are purposeful, intentional attacks of the enemy.
The enemy of our souls is no fool. He knows that the closer you get to God in your walk and the deeper your relationship and character grow, the more impact you will make for God’s kingdom here on earth. So what does he do? He goes for your Achilles’ heel, the very spring of encouragement, joy, and passion in your life to hinder you from growing. Whether it be your faith, children, marriage, job and/or health, he knows where to try and hurt you.
But here is the thing, friend: we don’t need to tremble with fear and hide from the enemy and all his darkness. No, he needs to hide from us…the very light of Christ.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others…” – Matthew 5:16
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“I (Christ) have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy…” – Luke 10:19
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved…” – Hebrews 10:39
“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can human beings do to me?” – Psalm 118:6
Picture yourself in that dark room again, but this time, imagine your entire body being illuminated with the power, light, and glory of Christ. As you press on with every single step, the darkness has no choice but to vanish. It may try to push back and attack, but you stand firm in your faith and grow in spirit. You begin to quickly learn and discern what areas are tender and prone to attack and are able to prepare for the warfare through prayer and meditation on the Word. But most importantly, with the power and authority of the name of Jesus, no weapon formed against you prospers and you ultimately reach the light.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13
“… Be prepared in season and out of season…keep your head in all situations, endure hardship…” – 2 Timothy 4:2, 5
You see, Christ has already won the war. It is finished. We just have to make sure we keep our eyes on that light of truth and not lose our footing.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:37-39
“Your sins have been forgiven on account of his name…because you know him who is from the beginning…because you have overcome the evil one… because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you… “ – 1 John 2:12:14
So what do you say, beloved?
Are you going to shrink back or are you going to finish this life fighting?