contributed by Jeremy
Maybe I should have lented from stress, or perhaps from doubt.
A little under a year ago I was laid off from a job I'd held for close to four years. The timing was right - I was planning a move already when the news came, and I left a job I enjoyed with no bitterness toward anyone. I quickly applied for Employment Insurance payments and held on until I found new work just a couple months later. That new job came in the form of working with adults with developmental disabilities, a job that was richly fulfilling on many levels. It was a clear sign to me that God was taking care of me in a time of some major transitions in my life (around the same time I moved from Abbotsford to Vancouver, and got married). The job location was very close to our home, the hours were good, the job was generally stress-free, and I've always enjoyed my interactions with people with developmental disabilities, so the job seemed a natural fit for the time.
Of course it came with things that I found difficult, and I knew that the job wasn't completely taking advantage of all of my gifts and abilities, nor was it challenging me in many meaningful ways. Add to that the reality of being a part of a union that was threatening job action in April of this year, and I found myself slowly searching for my next employment step.
I began the season of lent this year with 2 job interviews, for 2 positions I was very excited about. Each promised to get back to me shortly with their decision, and I felt reasonably comfortable that I would have a new job within a few weeks. The days marched on, however, with little contact from my new potential employers, and with the potential of a strike looming in my current job, my stress began to rise. In times like these, I tend to think about my life and decisions I've made, and not necessarily in the most positive way. I wonder why I don't have a more practical college degree, why I never pursued certain promotions, and begin to doubt even what strengths and gifts I know I do have. I know I should instead look back and trace the hand of God through every step I've taken in my life - the incredibly rich college experiences I had and the lifelong friends I made there, the jobs that always seemed to come in the nick of time and that always seemed to fit me so well, the 'divine appointments along the way, and even (or especially) the way he led me to who is now my wife.
Through much of my life, the words of Jeremiah 29:11 have followed my steps. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" It's a verse I've at least tried to hold on to, and seems to come back to me when I need to hear those words most.
So, a few weeks into lent (and after the two interviews), I finally received word from one of my two new potential employers: "We've hired someone else." Few more disappointing phrases exist in our language, and this was from the job I felt I had the best chance of achieving out of my two interviews. Clearly all hope was now lost. For a couple weeks I resumed browsing through job postings, wondering how I would ever find a job that I would enjoy and be good at, and if I was really ready for a life in my parents' basement while working at Burger King.
It was in fact, the morning after the darkest day of these last weeks... the day in which I truly thought I had no hope of new or meaningful employment, that the call came from the first of those two job interviewers, to ask if I was still interested in working with them, because they would like to offer me the job. So here I am, days away from the possibility of a strike in my 'old' job, about to start a new, presently exciting, challenging job... and true to form, it's come in the nick of time. And while it is simply a new job, and while I realize it may not be "perfect", I don't think it's too much for me to look at this as a true Ebenezer.
Thus far, the Lord has helped us. As the ending of Lent draws near and Good Friday approaches, I find myself so thankful that we follow a God who promises plans to give us a "hope and a future." Remember hope in all things.