I had this moment last week of utter panic. It just came over me all of a sudden – an enveloping sense of despair, of hopelessly floundering.
I am job-hunting again. In six long years searching for something that fit as well as my first 30-year career, opportunities fitting my experience and interests are scarce. So I am exploring areas where I am less experienced and interested that require me to stretch more to make a decent case for myself. And of course, I don’t stack up as well against the competition….
The more I have to stretch, the less confident and more doubtful I feel. Will I ever find a good fit again?
I cling to the Lord and the promises he offers.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7, NIV)
I’ve been doing that – asking, seeking and knocking but despite doing my best to fit into the opportunities that have surfaced, I have been declared unfit for each of them. What gives?
All along, I hoped God would bring something new and fulfilling to me. Now I am not so sure. From my bible, I get that God’s followers are also misfits. But he doesn’t abandon them. He occupies their darkest moments, and mine too.
No where in the Bible is this reality more true than the book of Lamentations. This poetic book regards the dire state of Judah during Babylon’s siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Israel’s nobles, soldiers, priests, prophets and commoners were ruthlessly slaughtered. Babylon’s 30 month siege brought the city to its knees. Starving mothers resorted to cannibalism. Ultimately Jerusalem was leveled and the flower of its inhabitants were dragged off into ignominious exile.
Makes my job-hunting panic seem lame, doesn’t it?
Imagine the hopelessness and utter terror of that time. Yet Lamentations does not depict God as absent. Perhaps absence would have be preferable to reality because, as it turns out, God is the one pulling the levers! Judah’s real “enemy” is God himself. Babylon is just a pawn.
The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel….all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds….He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden; he has destroyed his place of meeting….The Lord has rejected his altar and abandoned his sanctuary. He has given the walls of her palaces into the hands of the enemy. (Lamentations 2: 5-7, NIV)
Swap Babylon with the Taliban to get a present-day visual of how Jerusalem might have viewed what happened.
To her credit, Judah confesses its guilt and associates its sinfulness with having a role in what happened.
Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean…Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future….The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command. (Lamentations 1: 8a, 9a, 18a, NIV)
Still, the situation is alarmingly foreboding for a holy God to bring about. And the book doesn’t hold out that repentance will bring restoration or a return to prosperity.
Jesus would later announce that the only true way back to the Father is through him. Nonetheless, we find in Lamentations one of the most quoted passages of hope in all the Bible.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3: 22-23; See Lamentations 3: 22-33)
So what is a believer to do when sheer panic sets in? What the people of Judah did during one of the worst periods in their history and what I did last week. Take a deep breath and then take another step of faith in the God who saves.
When God pulls levers that brings or allows catastrophe into our lives, believers pull the lever of faith.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)