Yvonne Orji Found God Between “Struggle Meals” and Searching for Loose Change

I can’t call how long you’re gonna need to be believing before you see your blessing, but I can tell you that there’s no such thing as an “overnight success.” For a lot of folks, it was a series of veeeeeeerry long nights. It took me seven years to be discovered, and one of the most important things I learned in that season is that success is created when strife has been perfected. I know it sounds ridiculous, but your struggles are a gift. Matter of fact, Da Good Book encourages us to consider it a sheer gift when challenges come at us from all sides. That kind of pressure forces our faith life into the open and exposes its true colors. We actually would be doing ourselves a disservice to quit prematurely in the middle of tough times. Our job is to let patience marinate in us so we don’t become half-baked in faith.

I definitely had to stew in some tests to let them develop my faith, and trust me, nothing about that was sexy. I’ll never forget the night I wanted to head into Manhattan to grab a slice of pizza. Not having a lot of cash to work with in those days, my favorite pizza spot became 2 Bros Pizza. You could get two slices and a drink for $2.75. I used to joke that with those prices, they fed both the artists and the homeless. When I pulled together all the money I had to my name, I couldn’t even come up with $7.75 for a roundtrip subway fare and food. Here I was, twenty-five years old with a master’s degree, and was struggling to find loose change.

Starving and angry, I contemplated going to the kitchen and making a syrup sandwich, which ain’t nothing but a poor man’s French toast—with more toast than French. I was tired of the struggle meal. I wanted something hot that felt like cooked food. I deserved at least that much at this point in my life. As I sat in bed and felt the warm tears roll down my cheeks, I felt Holy Spirit tryna speak, but I didn’t know if I wanted to hear it.

Not being a complete idiot, I grabbed my pen and paper and waited, because when Spirit speaks, you take copious notes. What followed next was a God-led download, a dissertation that filled an entire page. It was a dissertation of promised blessings that still serves as my blueprint of faith to this very day. In one of my darkest hours, God gave me a hope that seemed both glorious and insurmountable. His promises felt exciting, yet cruel. Here He was, telling me how I would experience immense success, but all I could see was everything I lacked.

When hard times come, and they will, all you gotta do is outlast your darkest night by one day, and you win.

I read those lofty promises and thought, Yeah, this sounds real good, Jesus, but I don’t need all’a that right now. Just gimme two cheese slices and a grape Fanta! There was a tug-of-war between the blind belief Jesus required of me and the visible strife eating away at my esophagus. When what you physically see appears more real than what God is trying to show you, there will always be conflict in your spirit. This is the conundrum that makes faith’n it ’til you make it so difficult. But know this, when hard times come, and they will, all you gotta do is outlast your darkest night by one day, and you win. Yes, you might be hard pressed on every side, but you’re not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but still not destroyed. You got this.

With hunger pains piercing my side, I knew that worrying wasn’t gonna get me fed. My tears couldn’t quench my thirst. The only logical thing to do was call it a night and hope for a better tomorrow. And better it was. The next morning, I woke up to the sweet smell of breakfast and was greeted to a plate of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Jacque, the woman I was staying with, had made a feast, and I couldn’t help but wonder if God had whispered my needs in her ears as she slept.

It was September 2009 when God deposited those words into my spirit, and for over a decade, I’ve kept that sheet of paper tucked in my Bible, pulling it out every so often to verify the manifestation of a promise. It’s blown my mind to see things I’d written actually show up exactly how Jesus said they would. And when they didn’t, I’d tell myself, Nah, boo, that ain’t it. Keep going ’til you see what it says. It’s certainly been a process, but I’ve learned that when we rush the process or don’t trust the roller coaster, when we give up too soon, or refuse to even try, we choke the umbilical cord attached to our purpose and ultimately destroy, delay, or downgrade our destinies.

Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams is out May 25. Pre-Order

Excerpted from Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji. Copyright © 2021. Available from Worthy Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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