“In this world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NAS).
No one wants to hear those ominous words on a Friday afternoon: “Come into my office, please.” But over the course of your career it could happen. It does to many people with strong work ethics and well-honed job skills.
Your heart cries—Where are You, God? Why did You allow this? Don’t You care about me and my family? Why didn’t You intervene?
But perhaps God’s done just that—He intervened. Just not the way you expected.
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God's plan always includes trials and tribulations.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4 NAS).
The first time my husband was fired—yes, I said the first time—his boss just didn’t like him. Could it be God rescued him from a miserable existence? He would never have quit on his own. Has God rescued you by terminating your job?
God provided a new job for my husband and all was well until three years later, a week before Christmas, when the company filed bankruptcy and closed its doors. He wasn’t fired but the sudden layoff had the same result—no paycheck and the humiliation of being unable to provide for our family. Application after application went unanswered. Our church family prayed and we agonized. Where was God? However, He had provided a month’s severance and the week before severance was about to run out, God moved us across the country to a better job. A better school system for the kids. And an opportunity for us to begin growing up in Him. And our first lesson was labeled—being thankful—in all things.
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“It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High; to declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night… for Thou, O Lord, hast made me glad by what Thou hast done, I will sing for joy at the works of Thy hands” (Psalm 92:1, 2, 4 NAS).
Growing up in Jesus is often painful. Why? Because we struggle rather than focus on thankfulness and immersing ourselves in His Word. But that’s difficult when your mind’s ridden with fear. Fear sweeps faith to the curb, and we don’t want to release our need for control. We had a plan—not this plan.
Our hard times returned a few years later when my husband was caught in a corporate purge. We cried again, “Why God? Why? How could You allow something so good to turn so sour?”
But once again, according to His promises, God provided. The company who terminated gave him another job—at half the pay—with two kids in college. And my heart screamed, what are we going to do? But our incredible God made more out of less, and after we experienced and acknowledged His ability to provide, He connected my husband with another job.
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What if you don't get it the first time?
We continued to question. I’d love to tell you we learned to be thankful in all things, but we flip-flopped between thankful moments and anxious ones. In the middle of an anxious time, the mother of a young boy in the Sunday School class I taught shared, “My son prays for your husband every night.” She hugged me and smiled. “He asks God to never let Mr. Gates go without a paycheck.” We both wiped our tears and marveled that a fifth grade boy would think to ask God for such a bullet-point request.
To this day, we’ve never missed a paycheck and have even had severance and new paychecks overlap. All these years later, I’m still filled with wonder and amazement at God’s patience with us and how He used this fifth grader’s simple but direct request to teach me to be thankful in all things. Even with two more terminations and a forced retirement, God led us back to the company of the corporate purge and firing, where my husband worked successfully another 10 years before retiring.
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Overcoming My Me's
“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Romans 8:24-25 NAS).
When God ordains a trial for you, that in no way means you’ll receive an automatic pass. Trials are meant to teach us—to change us.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m not a quick study. I’d love to tell you we didn’t worry or fret, but that, too, would be a lie. However, the consistent evidence showed God honored that fifth grader’s prayer and He provided for our needs. Little by little, trial upon trial, we are still learning—
- God provides our needs—every one of them.
- When we ask, He gives us wisdom to learn the difference between our wants and our needs.
- He gave us the courage to say no when our children wanted trendy, costly, unnecessary things.
- Each day we practice putting our trust in the Lord God Almighty and living one day at a time.
- With every new twist and painful turn, we are still patiently learning God holds us in the palm of His hand, even when times are tough.
- He is teaching us to persevere—to keep on keeping on, especially when we don’t see the end and don’t like what we do see.
- He has instilled in us the treasure of hope—hope in God to change every situation for our good and His glory, even when all we can see or understand looks ugly.
We would never have learned these lessons if trials and troubles hadn’t laced our lives. Hard and difficult times drove us to our knees and pressed us to God.
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Overcoming Guilt and Self-Pity
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23 NAS).
Guilt is the devil’s go-to, works-every-time weapon, with a little self-pity thrown in for good measure. Trouble often shoves us smack in the middle of a guilt cage with self-pity bars. We beat ourselves up with “coulda, shoulda, woulda” words. But there are two types of guilt—false guilt and real guilt. And to fight this battle effectively, we must learn to discern the difference.
Real guilt comes from God when you’ve truly done wrong. Our Lord’s purpose is to bring us to understand what we’ve done so the Spirit of God and His Word can help us comprehend, confess, and repent. God’s forgiveness leads us to restoration and a right relationship with our Father in Heaven.
False guilt comes from Satan whose goal is to destroy you, your family, and your faith in God. Remember, if you’re a believer your soul is secure. But Satan wants to convince you his lie is your truth. He can’t steal your salvation, but he can destroy whatever you allow him to access. And it all begins in your heart and in your mind.
“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).
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