When I was a young girl, there would be countless school programs that I wanted to be in. In my primary grades, I couldn’t muster up the courage. However, when I reached sixth grade, there was a very bubbly music teacher named Mrs. Muhammad who encouraged me to join my school chorus. I was elated that she thought I had talent. I had not yet discovered it on my own.

At our first performance, I looked around to see if my mom was in the audience.There was no sign of her. I sang on wearily, wishing I could smile into her face like the other kids around me were doing.

Months passed and I continued to wish for the same thing, all to no avail. At our final performance in sixth grade, I happened to look near the entrance of our school auditorium and saw my mother waving and smiling at me. I beamed and belted out the last line of the Billy Joel classic “I love you just the way you are,” and held my head high. I was so glad that she could finally see me perform. Her presence gave me a joy that carried me right through the summer.

Years later, I had my very first solo in the high school chorus. As I stepped to the microphone, I looked to my left and saw her seated in the front row. She waved and smiled. I felt calm enough to sing my solo with pride.

The same thing happened when I made my debut in 1989 as a House music artist at the famous Zanzibar nightclub in Newark, N.J. As my group was announced, I looked through the dark crowd for a familiar face, and found my mother screaming and yelling my name. “Go, Jazmina!,” she yelled as I began to sing with my group Intense. She was always in my view when I needed to believe, when I needed to feel strong, and when I needed to know that someone I loved was there with me.

God operates in a similar fashion. God is always present when we need comfort, safety or confirmation of who we are and where we are going. God is most present in the times when we are struggling and when we think He or She is not answering our prayers. It is in those times when we must know and believe that God is closer to us than our fears, our worries and our doubts. God can never be separated from us. Strife can often confuse us into believing the opposite; however, God always knows when to make an appearance to settle us and to remind us that what we need is right at our reach.

It was always a habit to look for my mom. Although she continuously showed up for me, I had moments when I wondered if she would. We will wonder if and when God will appear in our tough situations. The reality of life is that God knows the outcome of our situations before we do. In Jeremiah 29:11, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah by declaring “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.”

Since our future is already planned, and our past has proven that we have God as our support system, there is no possibility of failure. Anything that seems like failure is simply an opportunity to believe bigger.

When your challenges have you up against a wall, take a deep breath, believe and look behind you. God is standing by.

Isai Efuru

Isai Efuru is a native of Newark, N.J., and hails from a legacy of singers, ministers and musicians. She published and performed poetry while a student at Rutgers University, and continued to write poetry...