“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Growing up, this was one of my favorite verses. I found it so overwhelming that God, the creator of the universe, had a plan and a purpose for my life. It made me feel special, important—and, to be honest, a bit like those comic book characters who find out they have a superpower and have to save the world. My life had meaning.
But what happens when the plan doesn’t unfold the way you thought it would? Maybe the guy you thought God was drawing you to doesn’t like you back. Maybe you didn’t make the cut for a team, a college, a job. Where is God in that?
God made humans with dreams and desires, but sometimes living with the weight of those desires can feel paralyzing. So what can you do if you’re stuck under the burden of an unanswered prayer? Here are five strategies that will help you.
- Find someone to help put things in perspective. One of the greatest gifts I received growing up was the friendship of several older women in my church. The mentorship of an older woman is powerful because it allows you to see a new perspective from someone with much more life experience. It’s a bit like sitting on someone’s shoulders during a concert. Trust me, things get much clearer.
- Keep jealousy at bay. It’s very easy to envy the people who have the things you want. But envy is detrimental to growth in Christ. In the world of social media, it’s easy to compare yourself to others, and it can often feel like everyone else has it way better than you. Don’t fall for that lie. Get to know people in real life, not just their online personas. You will find that everyone suffers from unanswered prayers.
- Do something for someone else. It’s no secret—the best way to help yourself is to help others. Volunteer with a local charity, go on a missions trip with your church, do something selfless for your family. It’s amazing what God does in our hearts when we focus on loving others.
- Practice gratitude by keeping a prayer journal. Our lives are busy and it’s easy to forget the answers to prayer that we have received. By keeping track of what you’ve asked for, it becomes easier to see God’s work in your life. Try to include things you are thankful for along with prayers you have.
- Learn to love the detours. Detours can be frustrating. They take forever and they usually come at the worst times. But detours can also be blessings. During a detour, you might find that you have skills and interests that you never knew about before. Detours help us know ourselves better.
God has a plan for you. You are important. So keep praying!