I expect many of you can relate. We’ve been on the job market; we’ve been diligently applying for jobs, talking to people we know, posting our resumes around the web. Yet, here we still sit with no job in hand. It feels like it’s never going to happen. We’re going to end up eating Ramen and sifting through stacks of bills while we watch daytime TV, trying to decide what to pay and what to leave until the next droplet of money hits our checking accounts. Sometimes, we get very discouraged.
This was me recently. I got a rejection from the one teaching that I thought I was perfect for. And it wasn’t just a standard rejection; it was a “we got over 50 applications” (not a lot for an academic job in this market) and you still didn’t even qualify for an interview rejection. I quietly laid the letter on the table and continued putting away the things I’d carried in with the mail. I didn’t cry. I didn’t say anything. This is a bad sign. If I don’t cry at bad news, I’m shutting down. I was just at the point where I felt ultimately discouraged. What in the world was going on? I have all this education, all this experience, all this talent, and this great desire to work, and yet, I can’t even get an interview. I felt a little like giving up.
And yet, I know somewhere deep inside myself that there is the perfect thing for me out there. I have been promised this. In the prophecy of Jeremiah, he says, “This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned outâ€”plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Normally, we focus on the whole “plans to take care of you” part, and wow, isn’t that a glorious promise? But there’s another piece to this promise – there is God’s timing involved – “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and NOT A DAY BEFORE.” The Israelites were in captivity. All that they had been promised was taken away from them – their homeland, their religious practices, even their families – but God has promised to deliver them, just not before God is ready.
So I take even more heart in this time of frustration – my God who loves me has promised to give me a future to hope for and my God who loves has worked out the timing perfectly for me, for the people around me, and for Godself. I don’t want to screw that up by trying to force the issue and “escape” from the captivity of waiting. I could never do work my way out of this as well as God can work my way out for me. So I wait and apply and hope and pray.
And sometimes I cry or shut down and eat a giant ice cream Sunday with marshmallows and Magic Shell. Then, I feel full and content enough to keep waiting until God says, “This is it. Break free. Do it. Live.”