In her book Evidence Not Seen, Darlene Deibler Rose describes something incredible that happened when she was a prisoner at the Japanese Kempeitai prison in New Guinea during World War II.
After living on almost nothing for many weeks, Darlene recounts how she began to crave bananas after witnessing a fellow prisoner receive a bunch of bananas in secret from someone outside the walls of the prison:
“Everything in me wanted one. I could see them; I could smell them; I could taste them. I got down on my knees and said, ‘Lord, I’m not asking You for a whole bunch like that woman has. I just want one banana.’ I looked up and pleaded, ‘Lord, just one banana.’”
After praying, she began to “rationalize” her request—“How could God possibly get a banana to me through these prison walls?” She knew she could never ask one of the guards, and it would be too dangerous to ask anyone else. She prayed again in defeat, saying, “Lord, there’s no one here who could get a banana to me. There’s no way for You to do it.”
The next day, she was visited by the commander from her prison camp, a man named Mr. Yamaji, whom she had come to know and respect. After he left, a guard came to her cell, and “with a sweeping gesture,” laid bananas at her feet. It wasn’t just one banana; there were ninety-two bananas!
Overwhelmed and beside herself with awe, she began to pray, saying, “Lord, forgive me; I’m so ashamed. I couldn’t trust You enough to get even one banana for me. Just look at them—there are almost a hundred.”
And then she heard God’s answer in her heart: “That’s what I delight to do, the exceeding abundant above anything you ask or think.” She knew then that nothing was impossible with God.
The reason I love Darlene’s story so much is that I often ask for one proverbial banana in my prayers without even realizing it.
Do you ever do that? Get to the point where you’re so desperate, beaten down, and overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding you that you can barely ask God for just one banana?
This happened to me recently as I prayed over a situation I was facing. My heart was heavy, and I was pleading with the Lord, asking him to move and work in a specific way. In my desperation, I asked God to provide one blessing—just one. In that moment, I was startled—almost interrupted, even—by the Lord’s still, small voice, saying, “That’s all you’re going to ask me to do? You know me better than that. Ask me for more.”
Darlene’s story immediately popped into my mind, even though I had read her book more than a decade prior, and I was convicted that I had been praying for one banana. I had been praying tentatively, hardly believing that God would answer my prayer. I knew in that moment that God was inviting me to freely ask him for much, much more.
What do you do when you’re faced with a seemingly impossible situation? When you can’t see any way around, over, or through a problem? When it seems like God would literally have to conjure something up out of nothing?
In those moments and seasons, it’s as if our faith is pressed and pummeled to the point that we can barely summon up one mustard seed’s worth of “He can do it.”
We rationalize the impossibility of our prayers—prayers for deliverance, for restoration, for healing, for salvation, for recovery. For freedom, provision, purpose, and reconciliation. It looks like it just can’t happen.
We’ve known disappointment. We’ve experienced defeat. We figure maybe this is just the way it’s got to be.
We know it will take an absolute miracle.
But here’s the thing. God can do what no one else can do. When you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel and you’ve got nothing left to give, when you know there’s nothing anyone can do and it seems like you’ve exhausted all your options, that’s when you realize there are some things only God can do.
And God is really good at doing the things only he can do.
Finally, let me encourage you with this: If you’re praying for something that seems as impossible as a bunch of bananas being sent to you through a prison wall, remember Darlene’s story. The answer may not come immediately, and it may not come tomorrow or the next day, but God will answer. He will provide. Don’t give up hope.
Remember, our God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20 KJV).
Tonight, when you’re praying as you go to bed, imagine Jesus whispering these words to your heart: “You’re asking me for one banana. You know me better than that. Ask me for a hundred bananas. Ask me for a feast.”
Grace and peace,