I was so excited to get a call for an interview. After many years as a nurse in the emergency department, I was applying for a new role. Through prayer and discernment, there was a strong confidence in the Lord’s leading toward this new position. It felt right and good. The call brought on a new wave of both trepidation and excitement. There would be a lot of change with this new job, and I was already dreaming of the new adventure.
A month later, listening to chatter among my colleagues, I heard the position had been awarded to someone else.
I felt surprised, disappointed and confused. How had God’s leading brought me to this point, only to find it wouldn’t work out?
I wrestled with my own misunderstanding of what I thought God would do. I’d been yearning for this change, now the door slammed shut right in front of me. Thankfully, I still had a job, but I found myself sitting in shock, questioning life.
Seasons of waiting arrive unexpectedly. Whether it’s a new job, a move, family or illness, we find ourselves torn between what we’ve hoped for, and what is. The circumstances, often out of our control, make it difficult to reconcile the tension of following the Lord’s leading, and not seeing the outcome we expected.
A Shepherd King
These seasons of waiting remind me of a young shepherd boy called from the pastures to meet with the prophet Samuel. He was a very unlikely choice, but there, in that moment, he was anointed the next king of Israel.
After David’s anointing, upon the stunning proclamation he would be king, he trudged back to watch over the sheep. No gathering an army to take over, no battle plans, just back to his present work of tending the flock. He would wait 20 years before he would fully reign over the people.
We see that in the meantime, David didn’t shirk his responsibilities. He obediently served his God and his king. Even while he was on the run, he cared for those standing with him, and led with integrity and courage. See, “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) and while David had to wait for God to work out the details of his future calling, he remained faithful in what God had given him.
Surrender Our Ways
Remaining faithful while we wait begins with daily surrender to God. This can be scary. When things don’t work out the way we want them to, we can feel as though we have to give up all our longings, our dreams, or our passions. Yet, when we open our hands in surrender to the Lord, his intention is not to take away our heart, but to satisfy us in the fullness of him alone. Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Our practice of surrender leads us to a deeper trust in God, for today, for wherever we are and whatever we are longing for.
We also need to confess that we may not know what he wants, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). The path to discovering God’s will for our life is found as we abide in him, preparing our minds and our hearts with his word. This daily practice is central to an abundant life, because he tells us, “whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
For the moments we don’t understand what he is doing, we seek him in the struggle, offering our prayers of lament, because we know that he hears and receives them all. A life of faithfulness is tough slugging to be sure, but it comes with great reward; it is the only way in which we will bear fruit for his kingdom.
Continue to Serve
A young man, sold by his brothers as a slave, arrived in Egypt. He worked hard, with integrity and quickly found himself running his master’s household. The displeasure of a seductive woman brought forth charges against him thus landing him in prison.
The injustice of his situation is evident, yet we see that Joseph didn’t give up. Rather, in the depths of a dark, cold prison, he pressed on to serve, finding favor with the guards, who then placed him in charge of other prisoners.
We find ourselves in circumstances we didn’t wish for. It may not be a damp, dark prison, but it can feel that way sometimes. Instead of focusing on the plight we’re in, we see in order to remain faithful we are invited to focus on what is before us. If we keep our eyes fixed on the job we didn’t get, or on all the things we are missing out on, we will miss out on opportunities that are right in front of us. The openings all around us, to serve people with compassion, love, and care.
Hear this encouragement from Elisabeth Elliot. “This job has been given me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
There are tasks we have been given by the Lord to accomplish, in our homes, our workplaces and in our churches, for his glory and for the good of others. By the grace of God we take a step of faith to join him where he is at work around us.
Embrace A Great Hope
Whether we find ourselves struggling in the midst of injustice, overwhelmed with a new diagnosis, or navigating difficult circumstances, our confident hope is found in Christ alone. The chaotic world around us may seem to implode, but “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:23).
Created in the image of God, our lives carry meaning and purpose, even as we wait. Though sin entered the garden of Eden quickly, God’s plan, already set in motion, included a great rescue. Through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we are redeemed, given new life of purpose. This means, although storms will surely come, with harsh winds bearing down on us, if our foundation is secure, we will hold.
For we hope not in this world, but “for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13-14). While we may find ourselves waiting in unwanted circumstances, we are also waiting for the glorious return of Christ, for the day when he will restore all things. A wonderful day that will be.
In his Confessions, Augustine famously writes, “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.” Our restless hearts, created with passions, desires and longings have been given to us by the Lord, but will only find true rest in him alone.
Entering 2020, I still found myself waiting. Yet, looking back, there was no place I would have rather been. The job I applied for would have taken my nursing skills out of the emergency department, during an unprecedented time of pandemic, when they would be desperately needed. I didn’t know what the year would bring, but God did. He kept me there, knowing that a light would be needed in a dark and scary time.
All the while, he was doing a work in me, and through me, for his glory in my workplace. It was hard and there were many challenges, but I knew without a doubt, that it is where he wanted me to be, for this season in time.
Whatever we are waiting on, whether it’s a job, a family, or a calling, may we seek to become women after God’s heart, faithfully serving those around us, with the eager expectation that he is doing something, even now, right where we are.