Is losing a job you were successful in and then going without work for several months an unfair and undeserved circumstance? Honestly, it all depends on your perspective. As Christians, when hardships come, and they always will, we must rely on what we know about God, not what we feel. For example, we may feel despair during trials, but we know nothing can occur without God allowing it. Clearly, this doesn’t mean He causes all tragedies, but an all-knowing and all-powerful God does allow them – for a reason. Therefore, if our loving Savior willingly faced an agonizing death in order to save us for eternity, we can trust in His complete provision and protection during any trial that may come our way. For in His hands nothing goes to waste and all things, even the bad, can be used to refine His children, propel His gospel and expand His Kingdom (Romans 8:28).
So, what was the outcome when months of unemployment came my way? I quickly applied three powerful truths earlier trials helped forge deep in my heart. I share them in hope that they may also encourage you in whatever challenge(s) you may be facing today:
Surrender: Many times the things that happen to us are completely out of our control. There may be no rational reason for them. So, we may naturally begin to wonder why God let them happen, but a better question for us to ask is what He desires to accomplish through them. For when we surrender our lives to Him, He assumes full responsibility and therefore, we can trust that whatever He allows, there is a beneficial purpose. This doesn’t mean we sit and do nothing, but in all we do, we surrender the outcome and its timing to Him while we seek out His lessons like treasures in the darkness (Isaiah 45:3).
Serve: How do waiters “wait” on tables in a restaurant? They serve. Likewise, as we wait on God to deliver us from whatever situation we’re in, we are to serve Him and others (Galatians 5:13) . For example, during my unemployment, I was able to start this blog, which to my amazement has reached people all across the globe! I was also able to go on a mission trip to South Africa, which grew my faith in countless ways; and I was presented an opportunity to open for my pastor during a local men’s conference where I shared my testimony as an encouragement to other men. In addition, my experiences allowed me to share and connect with others’ struggles in new ways, and commit to deeper levels of preparation for the adult Bible study class I teach at church. Interestingly, I wouldn’t have been able to experience these various blessings unless my job situation changed, and I had to be willing to seize the opportunities as God sent them my way. Consider – what opportunities has He sent you? Don’t sit idle in despair and worry – get busy serving!
Steward: When we realize all things are from and belong to God we’re less likely to try and cling to what we have, because we understand God both gives and takes with purpose (Job 1:21). As stewards, how well we manage the areas entrusted to us often determines our preparation for the trials to come. For example, because of faithful stewardship, unemployment didn’t plunge my family into a desperate situation. Rather, through our years of following the Bible’s directives for fellowship, finances and family, God provided us with the means and freedom to faithfully wait on His direction to receive His best and in His perfect timing. Alternately, poor stewardship often creates panic and desperation leading many of us to settle for whatever comes our way – whether it’s God’s best, or not. I know, for when I made life all about me, I found my health collapsing from neglect, my finances out of control, my work-life stressed and my priorities misaligned. As a result, my family was starved for my affection and God received little to none of my time – even though I professed to be a Christian. Are there any areas in your life you’re neglecting? Thankfully, when we turn our lives over to Christ, He is faithful in turning our lives around.
Application: “Prince, or Pauper Perspective?” – Isaiah 55:2
Why would we ever settle for pessimism and panic, when Christ invites us to an abundant life of fellowship with Him? God promises to supply our every need, and when He is our priority we are content in Him and satisfied with His supply. Our joy isn’t based upon the good that happens to us, but it’s consistent through all the peaks and valleys. However, we have a choice. Will we engage life as a poor victim, always complaining about the injustices and difficulties of life, or will we see it as an adventure, filled with opportunities to enjoy Christ? For me, my divinely orchestrated time of unemployment ended with two fantastic job offers. However, that’s not the only good news. For throughout the entire process, God led my every step, provided for my family’s every need, strengthened my faith, gave me new testimonies to share, encouraged others and propelled His gospel. Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs that can only be appreciated by those in Christ. Which experience will you choose?