Trusting in the little disappointments is sometimes the hardest

After years of almost silence on this blog, God has finally given me the words to start writing again. If you haven’t already, please read “A Habit of Trust.”  I shared the culmination of these lessons in trust and the testimony of what God has done.

I have so much to share… so many little lessons… and I wasn’t sure where to start! So of course I asked the Holy Spirit to show me, and I trust that He is leading me to start here.

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Life throws disappointments at us sometimes, doesn’t it? Maybe “sometimes” is understating it, though. We hope that something’s going to happen… and it doesn’t. And then, when it happens often enough, we lose hope. We just start to assume the worst.

I’m what some people call an incurable optimist. The glass is not always half full, it’s half full of something good… even if it’s just plain water!

And yet, I have this phrase that I used to say whenever my hopes were dashed. I’d say, “Well that sucks!”  Or maybe sometimes instead I’d say, “That totally stinks!”

This little lesson started during one of the many job hunts that one of my kids were doing. Or maybe all of them. My kids are currently 22, 21, and 18, so we’ve had a lot of job hunts over the last handful of years. They’re at the age where they need to be working, but jobs are hard to get because their application looks so much like everybody else’s, and they’re young. I’m sure some of you can relate!

I don’t actually remember which of them was job hunting when God taught me this little (but pivotal) lesson in trust. I just remember how frustrated we were at how many “Now hiring” signs were out there… how many people claimed that their company would hire anybody who was willing to show up to work… yet my responsible, eager-to-work child could submit application after application after application and never get any calls… even from locations that continued to advertise that they needed people!

So in one particular situation, a call for an interview was received, and our hopes rose… only to be dashed when they gave the job to someone else.

“That sucks!” I said emphatically.

Why? said the Holy Spirit.

“I wanted him to get that job!” I responded.

But you prayed that he would get the job IF it would be a good job for him. 

My thoughts and exclamations ground to a halt.

The Holy Spirit continued, Do you trust that I know better than you do about what jobs are good for your children? My children?

“Well of course You know better,” I responded.

And do you believe that I am capable of making sure that their next job is the one that they need?

“Of course you are capable. You’re God!”

Then why are you saying that My decision on this job sucks?

I was rather speechless as I began to realize that my simple statement of disappointment was rooted in pride rather than trust. Because even though I said I only wanted my kids to get jobs that were good for them…  even though I knew that God could see into the future and knew if a particular job would actually be good for them or not… when it came right down to it, my feelings and reactions showed me that I actually thought I knew better.

Think about it.

There had been two possibilities. 1) A job offer. 2) No job offer and the job search would continue.

I asked God for option 1 only if the job would be good for my child.

God chose option 2.

I then said that option 2 – God’s choice – sucked.

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I didn’t learn that lesson the first time. I had been in such a habit of saying that things “sucked” (forgive me if you find that vulgar), that as the job searches continued for different children, the Holy Spirit had to continue to stop me, right when the words were on the tip of my tongue. He’s applied the lesson in other areas of my life as well, as other disappointments have arise. He still has to stop me sometimes.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that His simple challenge required me to think more deeply about how powerful I really believe He is. How much I really think He is in control.

Was the lack of job offer His decision? Or was it merely because a hiring manager was unable to see my child’s potential? Or was it because my child had said something wrong in the interview? Or was there merely someone else better qualified?

How much do we really control our own destiny? How much do my kids control their own destinies? That’s part of the question too, isn’t it?

Most if not all of us believe that we do have the freedom to make personal choices. We can choose not to prepare for an interview and then mess it up more than we would have if we had prepared. That hiring manager can choose which person to give the job to.  She could even choose to give the job to her friend’s daughter instead of the most qualified applicant. Right?

But if we look in the Bible, we see that God has a way of orchestrating circumstances so that His will is accomplished. Look at Joseph’s story. God determined early on in his life that he would be over his brothers, and for whatever reason, God chose to tell him this through a dream. Joseph then screwed up and his pride angered his brothers. His brothers then screwed up and sold him into slavery. Joseph wound up the servant of an unscrupulous woman who manipulated circumstances so he was thrown into prison.

And yet, what God had decided was eventually still accomplished. Not only was it accomplished, but Joseph was prepared for the task God had for him along the way.

Might it have been accomplished more smoothly and less painfully for Joseph if he hadn’t bragged to his brothers? Yes… but that’s an alternate timeline we’ll never know. Would it have been a “better” timeline? That is a question that tests our trust as well, for how could we possibly see into the future to know what is better in the long run and what is not? Very often, life’s struggles and disappointments and trials are what make us better, stronger, more innovated, more wise, etc.

How about David’s story? God had Samuel anoint him as king of Israel. Somewhere along the line, Saul found out, according to 1 Samuel 23:17. Saul didn’t like it, and he did everything in his power to kill David.  But what God had decided would happen could not be stopped.

Isaiah 55:10-11 is where God states emphatically that this is so:

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth and make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

It’s like the Mississippi river. This map shows the many twists and turns that it has taken over the centuries as various things affected it and tried to stop it here or there. And yet, it still carries water from my little town in Central Ohio, all the way down hundreds and hundreds of miles until that water reaches the Gulf of Mexico.

So when I’m thinking about these disappointments in the job hunt, the questions I must ask myself are these.

Do I believe that God is capable of giving my kids favor when they interview for the job that He knows they need, so that the hiring manager overlooks any mistakes they make in the interview and sees that they are hardworking and quick learners?

Yes, I do. I believe He is powerful enough to do that.

Am I willing to trust that God really does know what is best for them? Even if it means an extended job hunt? Even if it means a job with challenges that tempt my kids to say that their job sucks?

Yes, I am, for I know that a young person getting an easy, good-paying job can actually be quite bad for them in the long run. I have no way of knowing how every single possible job out there, with its working environment, current and future bosses, commute, coworkers, job duties, and every other factor will affect my kids. I don’t want them to get a good-paying job that sounds good but that turns out to be with a boss who will tear them down emotionally. Nor do I want them to get a job with a boss who overlooks so much and would go so easy on them that they’d lose their good work ethic. Nor do I want… well, you see that the list of potential reasons that could make a job “good” or “bad” is far too long and involved for anyone to really know the sum total in advance.

But God knows it all. He not only knows every day of the future in any potential job, He also knows exactly how my child would respond to each challenge that would arise in that job. He knows how they would grow and change in that job position. He knows what skills they would learn and the future those skills would prepare them for.

And He loves them even more than I do. And I gave them back to Him before they were born.

And so I chose to trust Him and change my response. I encouraged my kids to ask God to lead them, and when each new job application was turned down, I chose to respond with, “That must not be the right job for you. Thank You, Father, that You are in control and that You love my kids and know what is best.” And when the only job my daughter could get paid less than minimum wage, I responded with, “Well, there must be something else about this job that will make it good for you, other than the money.”

And as my response changed, my peace increased.

Months have passed, and I can see God’s hand in the jobs that each of them have… and that is another lesson that I will soon share.

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Are you struggling to deal with disappointments in your life? Are you struggling with frustration and turmoil in your soul over it?  I encourage you to trust the One who knows what is truly good and what isn’t anywhere near as good as it looks. I encourage you to trust that He knows how the challenge you are facing will shape you and strengthen you and teach You to trust Him and receive strength from Him. The lesson holds true even for big disappointments and painful things, for learning to trust Him with the most painful struggles in my life has taught me beautiful and powerful things that are well worth the pain I went through.

He does know what we need, and His sufficiency is always there. And the more we trust, the more we position ourselves to receive His sufficiency.

Next Post in the Lessons in Trust series: Trust’s foundation makes all the difference when you walk through fire

For I know the thoughts and plans 
I have for you declares the Lord. 
Plans for welfare and not for calamity, 
to give you a future and a hope. 
– Jer 29:11

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