How to Pray When Life is Hard

life help

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If you haven’t yet heard, let me tell you here—the release of my next book, Isaiah’s Daughter, must be delayed from October 2017 to January 2018. Why? Well, because life got hard—but God remained good. Wanna read a little about what I learned through the process?

The Journey ‘Til Now

When I signed the contract for Isaiah’s Daughter in May 2016, I knew writing the book would be a tough journey. I only had five months to research and write a book—a process that normally takes a year. Add to that a cross-country move from Washington State to North Carolina. We have a recipe for wooden characters, shallow dialogue, and a story that felt…incomplete.

During the line editing process—the book’s second major edit—we took the manuscript apart and reassembled it with a few new storylines, more descriptive settings, and more relatable characters. Let me mention a few other things also occurring during the line edit: my husband and I both had colonoscopies, I received a definitive diagnosis for my daily migraines, and my aunt was diagnosed with a brain tumor. For four weeks, I wrote a lot and slept very little. (BTW, my diagnosis was Chiari malformation)

When the line edit was finished, the word count had somehow ballooned to 140,000. I am only contracted for 110,000 words. Eee-gad! We cut 15,000 words in four days, and my senior editor said, “Enough! Send it.”

I sent her my brand-new-baby that had undergone a major facelift. She approved it within days but suggested a delay in releasing this newer version to give it the promotion time it deserved. The lessons King Hezekiah and Queen Hephzibah learn are perhaps the most important takeaways of any books I’ve written thus far.

So, though I’m disappointed about the delay, I’m absolutely ecstatic about this book! The lessons I’ve learned have already begun…

Today’s Lesson–One Among Many

Over the next few weeks and months, I’ll share with you many things I learned during this writing and editing process. Today, we begin with a lesson on prayer.

One day I was feeling so discouraged about my writing, I said to the Lord, “I’m not even qualified to write a Facebook post!”

I heard very clearly that still, small Voice: It’s not about you or your ability.

That little truth shocked me from my pity-party. I knew it was supposed to be about Him, for His glory, but somewhere in the nouns and verbs and character sketching, I’d lost sight of the bigger picture.

Our gracious God took me back to His Word and showed me how the giants of faith prayed when their hearts ached…

It’s All About God

When Abraham heard God reveal His plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he began bargaining for the people in the city. The bargaining wasn’t based on his own personal gain—not even to specifically save his nephew, Lot—but rather his rationale trusted in God’s commitment to do right:

[Abraham said to God,] “Far be it from you to…kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25

Moses also argued with God basing his argument on God’s perspective. On an occasion when the people of Israel aroused the Lord’s anger, God threatened to destroy them. Moses didn’t argue all the pros and cons of strategy. His main concern was to protect God’s reputation among the nations:

“If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’” Numbers 14:15–16

During my little writing crisis, God wasn’t about to strike anyone dead, but my waning confidence was on life-support. I went back to read some of my published books and felt as if someone else had penned those words. It was at this point that I happened upon these passages of Abraham’s and Moses’ prayers. I was astonished at their selflessness.

A Life So Focused…

Both Abraham and Moses were less concerned with the actual circumstances around them than how those circumstances would reflect on God’s character. When faced with a crisis, their first thought seemed to be how it might affect others’ view of God. I must confess, that’s not my first thought in a crisis—but I’d like it to be.

What if I witnessed some sort of accident and my first instinct was, How can I be Jesus to these people right now?

Were my husband to lose his job, would my first thought be, How can our family’s reaction show others God’s faithfulness?

What if my puny little book release gets delayed by three months? Hmmm. I pray my response will demonstrate a complete trust in God’s perfect timing.

Tweet-A-Licious!

Today’s Question:

  • How can you focus on God rather than yourself in a situation in your life?

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Comments

  1. Mesu, it is always so encouraging to read your posts. You are real and honest about your struggles and about where God meets you in those struggles. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’m looking forward to reading Isaiah’s Daughter when it is released. Jenn

  2. That’s cool how the Lord encouraged you through your own books!! He’s amazing! (And so are your books!)
    Good to get a diagnosis. Have you gotten any relief from migraines?
    Strange enough, I had a student last year with Chiari malformation. (She also had several other brain disorders & was almost blind. But a really fun kid!) Does it give you balance problems?
    Thanks for sharing what you are learning thru the process. Looking forward to the next book(s), whenever they arrive! And our upcoming visit!!

    • No relief from the migraines (and, sadly, none expected). Thankfully, no balance issues at this point or other issues. We’re praying the symptoms don’t progress. The only treatment is surgery, and I’m hoping to avoid that! 😉

  3. I can’t believe it, Mesu! Just a few minutes (about 10) I spoke to God, asking him to tell me what HE wants me to do here, in my new retired environment, having been in missions for 35 or so years. I only left because of a chronic pain problem. It was, to me, natural to just transfer my giftings, longterm ministry, passions, to my lovely supportive church here. But… the pain has almost disabled me. I haven’t used any of these ministries except for counselling, which doesn’t require mobility and can be done anytime. It’s resulted in private self pity (fine in company!) and hibernation.
    Then, like you, it occurred to me 10 minutes ago, before finding and reading this, that it’s not about ME serving HIM and continuing with ‘my ministry’; but it’s what HE wants, it’s about HIM. So I asked Him, then and there, what his thoughts, desires and wishes are for me here and now. Also, how he wants to accomplish it. I asked if I could do something that will glorify him and not just impress others with my own experience, lessons, etc. Even if he says, ‘Go to bed’, sort of like Amy Carmichael.
    Then: this popped up on my ipad! Oh Mesu, thanks. It’s not about our reputations, is it? No. It’s all about our precious loving and lovable Father.
    Apologies for the length, didn’t know what to edit!!

    • Hahaha! You never have to apologize for length with me, girl! No editing needed! I loved every word of this testimony of God’s timing and personal touch. Blessings as you minister for HIS reputation. 😉

  4. Such a great article. We all at times need to step back and ask ourselves where is God in this. Is He going to be glorified in this situation in the way I’m relating to things going on in and around me. It’s all about Him NOT me. Will people see Jesus or me. God’s mercy and grace should always be first in our actions and talk.
    God bless you Mesu’s. Love you. Auntie Sug

  5. I loved all the comments and the post. I know it came from your heart. Victory out of chaos!! Thank you for being an overcomer!

  6. Love reading your post. I needed this one today. I am waiting to hear my test results and will get them Friday (23 Jun). But no matter what the results are, I am in God’s hands and he is the greatest healer of all. Thanks for all you do in writing these books and letting us read them. God is truly in your writings. As always, I look forward to reading your next book when it comes out. God Bless you!

    • Thanks for the blessings, dear one, and I pray Jehovah Rapha (the Lord who heals) is especially near you in the coming days. May His peace–that passes all understanding–lift and guide you as you receive those test results and move forward in victory, my friend. Hugs to you!

  7. Mesu,
    As a fellow Migraine sufferer who finally found relief, I am sorry to hear your diagnosis did not leave to better comfort. My headaches had several reasons, but one medication, given due to an irregular heartbeat, stopped them. Then, two years ago, I was found to have an aneurysm in my carotid artery, which does not need surgery but could in the future.
    I pray for relief from the thief of time and health that your migraines give you. Lord, please find a solution.
    My book club usually reads fiction but read “Being Mortal” by Gawande last month. With chronic health issues and aging parents, you might also benefit from the information given there.
    Miss you in Vancouver.

    • Thanks so much for your prayer and for the book recommendation, Annette. I’m sorry to hear about the carotid aneurysm. I pray you have no complications and it remains a non-issue for you. I miss Vancouver in the spring for sure–all those gorgeous rodi’s! Blessings on you, dear one!

  8. A few weeks ago a reading of Philippians 1:11 raised a similar question: what has happened to me that might really serve to advance the gospel?
    I’ve also recently come across a quote (can’t remember where or who) saying that 60% of our conversation is about ourselves.
    Even from the castle of my “charmed life,” that challenge leaves a lot of room for growth!
    Also your question, about trusting God more in whatever situation I am facing. Which mostly seems to be focusing on using my time *for God* (instead of for myself) each day.

    • Oooooh, I love that answer–focusing on using my time *for God* instead of myself each day. That could go in so many directions! Thanks for sharing that, my friend!

  9. I am grateful for every word God gives you for all of us benefit from it too. I have just started reading your book Miriam and it is very well put together. Your newsletters and posts speak to all of us in many ways. Don’t stop writing! May God continue writing the stories through you. Praying for miracles of healing!

  10. Sweet Mesu – God’s timing is always perfect isn’t it? Thank you for writing this ‘real’ post…God knew I needed it today. I was gifted a devotional for “Caregivers” just this weekend…oh how it has already spoken to my heart. As this read did also. I’m so sorry you’re still struggling with health issues….we know it’s all in God’s plan and that He makes NO mistakes, so we continue to trust and look UP. I’m so grateful for all the ways God shows His love to me through you. You are a sweet blessing! I, too, am very excited about I. D….I’ve pre-ordered it and will be excited to get it in my hands. Lots of Hugs & Loves to you Hon…take good care. XO

    • My sweet friend…I’m so thankful you’ve found a devotional to lift you during this tough time. You’ve always been a “caregiver” but now more than ever. Yes, we will keep looking up, and our God will answer and strengthen us! Blessings on you, precious one!

  11. Thanks for your books. I am rereading through God’s word and am in the book of Job. I feel the need to read again your book “Love Amid the Ashes”. It gave me great incite and understanding of Job and his plight. May God continue to give you these encouraging words to help each of us share His gospel and love with the world. May the Great Physician heal your Chari malformation is my prayer.

    • Thank you so much for your prayers, Karen, and for the great reminder that each of us has a role to play in sharing God’s message of hope and salvation with our unique gifts. Blessings on ya, gal!

  12. As I was reading this blog I was thinking about myself. My husband is going through cancer and I’ve been a basket piece. I want to be strong for him but I want to be able to witness to others that God has got this and I’m leaving it to Him. That isn’t exactly what is happening as I am worrying, trying not to cry, trying to figure out what is ahead, what will happen if THIS happens, what will happen if THAT happens. All along I have got to have that positive attitude which my husband has and I know things will turn out in God’s way. I have no power over God BUT He has power through me to stand firm in His word and LET him handle everything. Learn to keep my eyes on Him and my mind and thoughts on HIM. Thank you so much for this blog.

    • Oh, sweet LeaNecia! I can hear your struggle in the words on this page. I’m praying the Lord will give you His peace that passes all understanding as you cast your cares on Him. Fill your mind with all things good, true, noble, pure, etc. The battle will be won in your mind, and your heart will follow. Our God is able. He is good. He is always with you–He will never fail… Love and hugs to you!

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