Have you seen the new movie War Room?
It’s an inspiring story of how God interceded in a broken family in response to the wife’s fervent prayers. It is a call to all Christians to fight our battles in the heavenly realm, to fall on our knees in prayer and let God take over.
When I saw the movie, I was captivated. I was encouraged. I was inspired to set up my own personal war room in the safe room of our house, tucked safely away in the back of my closet.
But I also walked away somewhat sad, confused. I walked out of the theater wondering about God and his ways. I walked away with possibly more questions than answers.
You see, I fought for my marriage in the war room. My war room was the streets of our neighborhood where I walked daily. While I walked I prayed. Prayed for repentance. Prayed for our marriage. Prayed for reconciliation. Prayed for my husband’s freedom from addictions. Prayed that my husband would flee temptation. I prayed for everything I could possibly think to pray.
I begged God to intercede. I asked him to heal our marriage, give us a new ministry beyond anything I could conceive. I listened for his voice, his direction.
And yet my marriage failed. My husband did not repent but instead chose to walk in his own self-centered ways…a direction completely opposite what God would have for him, for us.
Did I see answered prayers? Absolutely! I saw the struggle on my husband’s face. I could see the strain of living a dichotomy, even though I didn’t know that was the problem. I saw God make him so ill at times that he couldn’t function, times where I know he was supposed to meet her. I saw him protect us by removing him from the ministry before the truth came to light, preventing us from losing our job and our only source of income. I saw him bring the truth to light, forcing my husband out into the open.
I saw so many answered prayers during that time in our lives. I give God all the credit for the string of activities that led to the revelation of his affair. I will never deny how God’s hand was all over the situation from start to finish.
And, I have seen so many answered prayers since our divorce. I’ve seen him take my kids, heal their hearts. I’ve seen him create empathy, strength, courage in my kids. I’ve seen him answer my prayers to create a ministry for me, to give purpose to my pain. I’ve seen God give me a new life, resurrecting my life from the death of adultery and divorce.
And yet, I did not see him save my marriage. I did not see my husband fall to his knees in repentance. I did not see my husband change into the husband and father that God created him to be, the one portrayed in the movie.
Instead, I was faced with a hard-hearted man who continues (to this day) to blame it all on me, refusing to take responsibility for his actions.
Was God able to answer my prayers? I have to answer with a resounding yes! Did God draw my husband to himself? I have to answer yes, I saw God working on him.
And yet, here I am, divorced. My marriage was not saved. My husband has not reconciled. I have moved on with my life.
God has answered my prayers, though. He has given me a ministry far greater than I ever expected. He has increased my faith in ways I never dreamed possible. He has grown me and my kids into God-loving, God-honoring souls. He has created a family—minus a dad—that loves deeply, laughs often, lives abundantly.
As I reflect on the movie, I find myself wondering why God didn’t answer my prayers for my marriage. Hear me out: I am happy, content, blessed. I don’t desire reconciliation with my ex-husband. I feel as if I have been set free from bondage, a bondage I didn’t even know I was in.
But, couldn’t God have set me free by keeping my marriage together, changing our hearts to be more like him, giving us the marriage of our dreams with each other?
I’ll be honest. I don’t have a lot of answers to this dilemma. I am grappling with the questions surrounding unanswered prayers, unfulfilled promises.
Here’s what I do know. There’s a place where God’s sovereignty collides with man’s free will. God will never force us to follow him. He will draw us to him. He will woo us. He will give us every opportunity to return to him, to repent, to seek his forgiveness. And yet, if a man (or woman) chooses to continue walking in sin, refusing to surrender, God will not force himself on us. That’s where my husband was. His free will won out.
And yet, in God’s sovereignty, he did not allow me to be destroyed. All of those prayers I prayed for my marriage—prayers for financial protection, freedom from bondage, increased faith, obedience, spiritual growth—have been answered in my life. He has blessed me beyond my greatest imagination, given me a ministry far bigger and better than anything I could have conceived. And, I believe I’ve only seen a small fraction of his plans for me.
Even beyond where I am today. I believe that he is preparing a man for me, a man who will fulfill all of my dreams for a husband. I believe somewhere out there, God is working in a man in response to my fervent prayers. I believe somewhere out there is the man who will step in, become a father to my children, love me as Christ loved the church. Somewhere out there, my prayers are being answered.
God’s ways are higher than our ways, and I become more aware of that each and every day. I am learning simply to submit, to do my best to follow as closely as I can, to trust him with my heart. I am learning to hang on for a crazy, adventurous ride. I am learning that just when I think I understand how God works, I realize that I will never understand this side of history.
If you, like me, have been in the war room and been disappointed, please don’t give up. Look around. Ask God to reveal where your prayers have been answered. Ask him to show you his ways. Ask him to reveal himself to you. Ask him to create the heart of a warrior inside of you.