December 18, 2008

Employment Purgatory

It's the waiting that kills me.

I have never been the sort of person that enjoyed waiting. I can do it, but mostly through grudging acceptance rather than joyous celebration. The anticipation of something unknown coming drives me crazy. Even in stories, I want to flip to the back and find out how it ends; suspense movies make me want to fast-forward and just get on with it (but I don't, because I'd get yelled at by other viewers).

Oh come, oh come Emmanuel

But it's worst when the waiting is for a major change. Right now, I have no job. I graduated a week or two ago, and have been job hunting since April. So far, two churches nearly hired me (but didn't), one told me they'd like to but couldn't (they needed somebody with counseling skills or something), and forty-four others either rejected me outright or are still pending. I'm hopeful of two of them at the moment, but there's no guarantee of anything. No guarantees.

And ransom captive Israel

I have no assurance that God will provide the amazing job that I want, where I want it, or when it's convenient. If someone ever tells you that God guarantees good circumstances to his people, that person is either deluded or deliberately misleading you. Lots of people in scripture were not given ideal circumstances. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, Moses was cast from his place as the son of Pharaoh into the wilderness, Israel was forced into exile from its homeland, Jesus hung on a cross, Paul was beaten, imprisoned, and stoned, and Stephen was martyred. There are no guarantees. I've led a comfortable existence; I grew up in a good home with godly parents and enough to live a comfortable, middle-class life. I received the best education, have a wonderful wife, and haven't yet had to live in a place without heat or electricity. I've never been homeless, but have always had my needs - and many of my wants - taken care of without an overbearing workload.

That mourns in lonely exile here

And yet the waiting is killing me. The more I study scripture, the more I see that God works through those uncertainties, those fears and doubts. As Calvin's dad would say, "it builds character!" To wait is to undergo a trial that tests faith, and through that testing, to build it. The more often God comes through for me, the more I persevere in trusting that He'll pull through with something (even if it's not at all what I was expecting), the more I grow to trust that he'll come through again next time. Sure, He could just make it all better right now, but would that do me any good?

Until the Son of God appears

My assurance is not in prosperity or well-being, but in presence. But assurance is not knowing for sure. Assurance is built on trust, on relationship. It's a functional thing - because I've known Jesus as long a I have, I trust that He'll be there. His words - "I'll be with you always, even till the end of the age" - are only words until they're backed up by experience. I took a leap of faith once, and He came through. Because He's proven himself already, I can trust that He'll come through again.

Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel shall come to thee, oh Israel

And so I wait in anticipation, wondering at what new thing God's going to do next. It still doesn't really feel easier this time around, though.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Thanks for this reminder of God's promise to us. It doesn't make it easier or less anxious, but it sure does give us something to place our trust in!