This article is part one of a two part series by a guest writer who chose to remain anonymous to protect the identity of some of the individuals mentioned herein. May you be encouraged as you read.
I am currently going through a season of waiting and I have been for some time now. There are many things that I am trusting God for but at the moment, establishment regarding a source of income is one of my primary needs. While it has been a trying season, I have been praying and trusting God for who He is and not just what he can give me.
In this time, I have felt pressure from all directions, both from within and without. I know what it feels like to think that God is ‘delaying’ and to wonder if He hears the prayers we make and if He cares- I know He does; I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and to break down in tears at the seemingly never-ending trials ; I know what it feels like to come from the prayer closet in one room and proceed to the kitchen to do chores only to be overwhelmed and end up making the kitchen another prayer room. Our kitchen floor knows the feel of my knees and the taste of my tears. I know what it feels like to think that you are being left behind as others are ‘progressing’ with their lives and to wonder if God has forgotten you- I know He never will; I know what it feels like to be looked down upon by people you considered friends who do not understand why you are struggling; I know how it feels for a parent to look down on you because you seem not to have lived up to their expectations, and to blame your Christianity for lack of a job simply because you choose not to cut corners in the process of finding one; I know what it feels like to invest in various business ventures and to lose your capital along with the hope of ever making profit. Simply put, I know what it feels like to be in the valley.
With my birthday coming up soon, I have been in a reflective mood, thinking about my life so far. It’s been more than 5 years since I graduated and most of the work I have done so far has been on short-term contracts punctuated by long waits. The waiting season has been pretty hard as I faced rejection and lack of approval from close quarters simply because I did not do what close people in my life expected me to do. They were not so subtle in letting me know about how they thought I had failed. I don’t believe I have; I believe I am still a work in progress, and I know God will surely establish me even though it takes a while. I choose to believe His word and hold on to His promises.
I share from ‘the valley of waiting’ today hoping that with the comfort that God has given me, I’ll be able to encourage someone else.
In seasons where you must wait on God, remember:
God is not just God of the season; He very much is God in the season.
It is easy for us to think that God is distant during trying seasons, but nothing could be further from the truth. God is present with us in everything we go through. Christ does not stand and watch from the sidelines as we go through the valleys of life, no, He is right at the center of the storm with us. Before any of us were alive to face the fires of life, God had already promised to be with us, and He does not go back on His word
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
One thing I am grateful to God for is that He has continuously met my needs even though there have been times when I have not had a constant source of income. I have never lacked food, shelter or clothing. and I have been able to meet my financial needs as well as those of others. I still live with my parent and much as I’d love to move out, I remain grateful for He is meeting my basic needs through my parent. As I trust God to bring me to a place where I can financially support my parent, I choose to be grateful for my current situation.
I am most certainly grateful for the short-term contracts I have had this far. Through them, I have gained invaluable experience for career growth and life in general. Aside from that, I’ve also had the opportunity to engage in work that is not employment per se, but it has been a channel through which God has provided for me financially. I am grateful for the formal education and excellence that God has granted me so far. I have never lacked school fees all along and God has always granted me excellence in a way that only He can. I really have thrived academically by the grace of God and I trust Him to grant me opportunities to use the knowledge and skills I have gained so far.
I am grateful for this waiting season, hard as it may seem to be, because I know it is part of God’s plan for my life and He will use it for my good, and His glory. It may not be pleasant but there must be a good reason why God, the potter, has me in this fire right now. I trust Him to refine me and to use me to His glory as He accomplishes His purpose in me and through me.
I know that many lack even the basic needs, and God sure does know about that, but we can always find something to be grateful for – difficulties themselves are worth thanking God for, as we trust Him to cause them to work for our own good. Beloved, it may not be easy, but be grateful. We may not understand everything in tough times, especially why things are hard, but we can choose to thank God knowing who He is and trusting His heart. His character does not change through the seasons. He always has our best interests at heart.
I recommend the book Answers to Praise by the late Merlin Carothers. It is a collection of testimonies from people who have chosen to praise God through difficulty, and the outcome of doing so. There are more books by the same author on praising God in every situation, that are also equally good and worth reading.
Remember God is not careless with you.
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
When I consider everything that the LORD has done for me and how far He has brought me, I find it hard to believe that He brought me this far just to leave me to ‘fate’. See, when Christ called the first apostles from their various vocations to a journey of apprenticeship in ministry, to make them ‘fishers of men’, He never abandoned them during the hard times. He was with them throughout the trying moments like when they were caught up in the storms at sea and He calmed the storms. In such moments, He worked on building their faith, and that is what He still does today to us.
God working on us is a process that at times involves Him subjecting us to the fire of trials to allow us to be refined for the sake of being effective for the purpose for which we are meant to serve. Like a good potter, He does not intend to leave us in the fire- He is just using the heat to perfect us and how I pray that He would help us to trust Him when things get hot.
Be genuinely happy for others and willing to support them in their journey.
Comparing ourselves to others breeds jealousy and causes us to question why they seem to be better than we are. It can even harden our hearts towards God because in our own view in such moments, it may seem like He is unfairly blessing others and not us. I for sure know that I have faced this before, and I have had to ask God to work on my heart and help me change my attitude. We become conceited when we wonder why others are not going through what we are. Pride subtly creeps into our hearts, and it most certainly hinders our own progress. I pray that God will continuously help me to be supportive to other people especially when they seem to be doing better than I am. If I fall short, I know I can always go back to the throne of Grace and ask God to work on my weaknesses.
I thank God for close friends and for my siblings who have quite stable jobs. One of my siblings graduated 3 years after me and she has a stable job; the other has recently been promoted to a leadership position. I truly am happy for them and I pray that God will continue to favor them. I thank God for He is teaching me to selflessly pray for others. When a friend requests that I pray for them to be able to deliver at work, I trust God to graciously do so even though I myself am yet to get a job.
It truly is fulfilling to be there for others in as much as we may be in need. May we trust God to use us to be a blessing to others, especially through prayer, in every season of their lives. May He help us to avoid negative comparisons that steal our joy and hinder our progress. We all are unique in as much as we have the same God- ours is an exemplary case of having the same author writing different stories of each of our lives and I know that He intends to make each piece a classic. As you run your own race, appreciate it knowing that God is writing your story and trust Him to support others as much as possible in their own race. May we praise God for what He is doing in the lives of others and not just our own. Let us strive to avoid the two perspectives described by Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life: the first perspective is one of pride where we think that for others to be happy, they must be like us- we do not set the standards, God does. The other is equally detrimental to us. It happens when we think that to be happy, we must be like others- our identities should be in Christ and not others.
Consider taking time to thank God for the people who you have compared yourself to in the past and trust Him to help you change any negative attitudes.
Choose to believe what God says. His is the voice of truth.
In the song Voice of truth by Casting Crowns, they compare what the ‘waves’ and the ‘giant’ say to us versus what God says to us in the middle of life’s storms. The voice of the waves or the giant(s) represent discouragements while the Voice of Truth represents God’s encouragement to us through His word.
Discouragements can come from many quarters whether internally, as we feel like we are simply defeated or externally from people who speak negatively to us. One of the discouraging moments in my life was when my own father told me that I was ‘useless’ because I did not follow the career path he wanted me to. At the time, I had just graduated but I was yet to secure a job and that was discouraging enough. In addition to this, he had intentionally previously refused to pay my fees for my undergraduate degree claiming that he could not waste money. I remember how I sat down on the first Sunday of my first year in campus and shed tears thinking of the pain that my he had caused us. I was hurt!
Upon graduating as I looked for a job, my own mother on several occasions criticized the course I had done. I had a placement at the time that would pay me as much as our house-help then was being paid and I remember her asking me whether I am worth being paid what our house-help was being paid. I felt bad both for myself and for the house-help who heard what she had said. I later apologized to her and encouraged her not to be bitter towards my mum. Despite knowing the pain her words caused me, mum continued with the criticism. She only stopped later after a bitter exchange with my sister for the same reason.
Most recently, she got to a point where she blamed my commitment to God for my lack of a job (I am still trusting Christ to draw my family members to Himself that they will come to believe and accept Him as their LORD and Savior). I was hurt because I was trying my best to get a job. I showed her the applications I had made but that did not seem to matter to her. I remember how I did my laundry that night as I cried and prayed through the tears. I remember telling my mother I would honor her because she was my mother and apologized for any time she felt I had not honored her. I knew that was a possibility because we had spoken many angry words to each other. That did not move her either, but I asked God to help me to still honor her.
Beloved, I have been hurt over the years by the words of people who seem to be ashamed of me. There was a time when I questioned my worth, but I no longer do because I know I am God’s daughter and He is my Father. Even though my parents may fail, God does not and by His grace, I choose not to be bitter against them.
I choose to openly share my experience with you, not to put my parents to shame but solely to encourage you. If there is any parent reading this, I encourage you to be a support system for your children. The world is rough enough as it is, don’t make your home equally rough. Let your home be a place of solace for your children as you encourage them to be responsible and cheer them on as they make every effort towards progress. You have the ability and opportunity to either speak words of life or death to them- choose life and trust God for their prosperity- it comes from Him. When your children face difficult times, it’s an opportunity for you to help them trust God- pray with them, counsel them as God leads you and may God help you to bond in the process. I digress!
God has helped me to rise above discouragements time and again. In situations where we are discouraged by lies from within us (discouraging thoughts in the middle of discouraging situations) or from the words of others especially those close to us, may we find solace in the truth and the truth is what God says about us and our situation as recorded in His word.
Every good and perfect gift comes from the LORD (James 1:19) and I for sure continue to trust that the LORD will establish me by giving me a fulfilling job (that’s my prayer- May His will be done). I have resolved to thank Him in advance for my next workplace. I am thankfully making my requests known to Him (Philippians 4:6). I know that God’s plans are to prosper me and not to destroy me (Jeremiah 29:11). I know that He is with me in this season and will never leave me to the very end. God has continued to give me peace as promised in His word (Philippians 4:7) and I continuously choose to trust Him even in moments when fear knocks and sometimes finds its way inside of me (Isaiah 41:10). When I am weak, He is strong, and I am grateful that my need is yet another platform for Him to glorify Himself. It is my honest prayer that the next placement He gives me will cause both me and those who’ve failed to believe in me before, to draw near to Him as we acknowledge His power and works.
Beloved, whatever your need may be or whatever discouragements you may face, please choose to believe what God says about You and your situation- at the end of the day, what God says is the truth! May we never forget that God is not limited by the discouragements in our lives- if anything, they offer Him a platform for Him to show His power.