As a former co-host of The View and Fox and Friends, Elisabeth Hasselbeck has sat at the cusp of unprecedented moments through over a decade of working with the daily news cycles. From this work, Elisabeth intimately knows that in shaking times, it can be easy to begin to think God is hard to find, or wonder if He hears our cries to Him at all. Her resolve to put faith over fear sparked a creative way she and her family can remember what is real and true even when it seems as though God isn’t working. It’s a joy to welcome Elisabeth to the porch today…
As parents, we want our children to pray with confidence about both the big and the small things. That nothing is impossible for God, and that He is never too busy with big things to hear their small requests.
We want them to believe that God hears their voices all the time. But even for us as adults, it can be hard to trust Him in the waiting.
Sometimes worry creeps into our prayers. Things seem a bit quiet on God’s end, and we start to wonder, “Does God actually hear me?” And our kids wonder the same.
My husband Tim and I wanted to assure our kids that they didn’t need to be afraid to share the disappointment in their hearts with the God who loves them dearly. We wanted to create a safe place where all of us can be honest about what’s weighing us down with anxiety or fear, a place to talk about what it means to depend on God, a place where we get real—really real—about what’s going on in our hearts.
Our family had been praying for two dear friends—little children—who were battling cancer needed a miracle. We held onto hope. We prayed for their families. We prayed, and faced heartbreak alongside many who had asked for their lives to be way longer here with us on earth.
Had our cries to God for their healing gone unheard? Did God not hear us? And if He heard us why would that prayer not be answered?
Our children needed to be reminded of the power of faith, and guess what – we needed it too. And they needed to see that we needed it.
How could we ever explain that God is hearing us, that He is working… even when it looks like our prayers have gone unanswered?
I prayed. And bought some paint. Chalkboard paint.
And one day, I boldly painted a wall in our home into a chalkboard. Then I called my kids in and handed them each a piece of chalk.
“Do you see the wall?” I asked.
“Yes, Mom,” they all answered.
Then I turned the lights off, and the room went dark. “Do you see it now?”
This time the answer was no.
“Is the wall still there?” I asked.
“So even when you can’t see the wall, you trust it’s still there? And that wall is doing it job to hold the roof up, right?”
I hold some chalk tight in my hand and think and think and think and stand, with that piece of chalk I write with all my heart with all my might … all that keeps me up at night.
I turned on the light, and we took our chalk and began writing our prayers on that wall. Together we wrote the worries in our head, the hopes and fears in our hearts, and the prayers that have gone seemingly unanswered. Doing this as a family became precious in more ways than one.
As we wrote, we became more connected, because we were all holding something in. “Wow, you have those worries too?!” We felt drawn close to one another, safe and comforted, as we realized we did not have to carry the load of concerns or temporary disappointment alone.
Soon after we wrote our prayers, I called everyone back to the wall and turned out the lights again. “Even when the lights are off,” I reminded them, “our chalkboard wall and our prayers are still there. The darkness does not cause them to disappear, it just makes them harder to see.
“So let’s shine a flashlight on where we have seen God work,” I continued, “and when you get to one of your prayers that still feels dark and unanswered, we will be honest – really honest – and shut the flashlight off. We’ll pause and admit that we don’t see what God is doing, yet we trust that He is good and working on it.”
As we reviewed our prayers, the truth of each situation quickly became apparent.
Things are changing, hopes are being realized. Flashlight on. God is listening. So many blessings that were worthy of noting, and noticing, and celebrating too!
Prayers yet unanswered, nothing seems to happening. Flashlight off. God is still there, and listening… we just have not seen the answer …yet.
Since we started this prayer experience together, big times of uncertainty have marked our lives. Yet we’ve been able to come together as a family in prayer rather than deal with these things alone. This safe space, with its permission to be real, has become a gift.
And guess who the gift is addressed to?
A mom and dad who could know exactly how to pray for their children.
A brother and sister who could see that their sibling had a hope too.
And a child who saw that even grownups need to trust in the waiting.
This chalkboard wall full of prayers regularly reminds us that we all are working on trusting God. We’ve come to treasure prayer as an adventure that brings our family together, points to the hope we have in Jesus, and candidly shows that even grownups are waiting on God for answers.
When your prayers seem to go unanswered, or even unnoticed by God, it’s easy to feel lost in the dark. Is He there? Does He hear this prayer?
I’m learning that depending on God as we wait in the dark of unanswered prayer is an exercise in trusting His greater plan. Just like our flashlight exercise, we can admit that we don’t see what God is doing, yet we trust that He is good and He is working all things together for our good too.
Sometimes we see God’s yes and other times we don’t. But just because it has not happened doesn’t mean it won’t.
We can be honest about the unanswered prayers and recognize our need for God’s provision. And in the times of waiting, we can declare that, even in the dark, He is working. We can move through uncertain times with a certain God. This is hope in the dark.
Even when its dark and dim and when we cannot see, let’s choose to place our trust in God, He’s close to you and me.
None of us imagined what this past year would hold, but we know who holds each day.
This flashlight night adventure in faith gave us a way, before the pandemic, to be real about trusting God, and what it requires.
While we cannot fully anticipate what lies ahead, God invites us to give our hopes and fears to Him, and to share honestly with those we love the process of trusting.
Even when we cannot yet see or understand how He is at work, we can find a gift in the waiting, together.
In her first picture book, Daytime Emmy award winner, New York Times bestselling author and mother of three Elisabeth Hasselbeck reminds us that little hearts can be anxious too–and that God is always listening to their prayers.
Flashlight Night: An Adventure in Trusting God invites kids – and parents – on an adventure in faith; giving them a place to share their worries and prayers in a brave, fun way. Grab some chalk, a flashlight, and give your worries up to God…who never changes, is ALWAYS there, and hears ALL of your hopes, fears, and wishes. Flashlight Night is narrated by a boy whose parents have used chalkboard paint to create a wall where he and his siblings can write out all their fears, cares, and concerns: Will I learn to blow a bubble? Tie my shoes? Stay out of trouble? Be the friend they choose?
The boy shares the wall with a friend, who records her own prayers. Later, they visit the chalkboard wall at dusk with a flashlight. His mom shines the light on some prayers and turns it off at other times, pointing out that their prayers (and the children’s faith) are still there, even in the dark, and that God hears every request.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]