A lot of our anxiety about the future boils down to a lack of trust. We worry because we don’t believe that we are going to be okay. That whole passage where Jesus talks about how the flowers in the field and the birds of the air don’t spend time worrying about how they are going to be taken care of, yet they are taken care of nonetheless, doesn’t seem to resonate with most of us.
I’d be willing to bet, though, that if you and I look back in our lives to moments when we felt like our world was ending and our futures were crumbling to dust, we would realize something interesting: We would realize that God took care of us in those moments.
Example. My junior year at UW I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to do after college. I was going to move to D.C. and get a job working for the Federal Government at a particular agency that I was very interested in. In order to improve my chances of getting hired on in the future, I decided to apply for an internship with that very agency. I went through the application process, was selected as one of 20 people from all of Seattle to interview, had a great interview in which the interviewers told me I was making it through to the final round, and then… I didn’t get the internship.
Wait, what? I thought I was a shoe-in. God, why would you bring me this far, and give me this much hope just to take it away at the last second? I don’t understand. What am I going to do now? I need to get some experience under my belt this summer. Now I am going to end up working at a restaurant serving pizza and I will spend the rest of my life working dead-end jobs until I end up an old, bitter man with hair in all the wrong places and a beer gut. Why, God? WHY?!?!
Fast-forward to the end of that summer and the beginning of my senior year in college. I am fresh off the plane from the West Bank, one of the biggest political hot spots in the world, where I just lived and volunteered for two months as a Deputee with the Inn.
Because of my Deputation experience, I struck up a relationship with a professor back at UW who, let’s just say, had a very successful career with a certain organization that I was trying to get a job with. He liked me enough to write me a letter of recommendation for another summer program the next year where I would be getting just about the most valuable experience someone in my shoes can get. I was going to live and study in Tajikistan, a culture that speaks Persian, the language I studied in college. Now, with Persian, you can’t really get a ton of first-hand experience with it, because the main places it is spoken are Afghanistan—a war-zone, Iran—a country that really really really doesn’t like the U.S., and Tajikistan—a post-Soviet republic that is home to a large faction of the Taliban. While to most people, the simple answer is, “Well then don’t go to those places,” the problem for someone looking to work in international affairs or international development is that field experience is like gold. Especially if you have field experience in a culture that speaks a critical language. Like Persian. Thus, the opportunity to go and study in a culture that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do so (safely, at least), was a huge opportunity and blessing.
So if my calculations are correct, not getting that internship allowed me the chance to gain a total of four months international living experience, two months of which were spent living in a culture that speaks my second language, the other two months of which were spent in one of the most historically and politically fascinating areas in the world, a relationship with a professor who was very well connected, and personal growth in more ways than I have the time to describe right now.
You tell me: Did my world end when I didn’t get that internship?
It was only after I had returned from the West Bank, and took the time to look back and reflect on how everything transpired that I realized how God had come through for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was not like I just sat back and everything just fell in my lap. I worked hard for the D.C. internship, and I didn’t get it. That was disappointing. But the reality is that while D.C. would have been a fruitful experience, no doubt, I was freed up to participate in a different experience that I now know to have been much more fruitful.
Of course, I had no idea that this was how things were going to go down when I found out I didn’t get the D.C. internship. I couldn’t have known. That is why it is so important to look back from time to time. Looking back, it all makes a lot of sense, and I see how God was at work in my life.
While I wish I could say that because of this experience, and the belief that God had a better plan for me than the one I had for myself has allowed me to trust God in every situation, the truth is I can’t. I still fail to trust God. All the time. It is nice, though, to have this part of my story to look back on and take comfort in when I come to another, seemingly different, situation that requires my trust in God. Remembering this part of my story at least helps me to put a little bit more trust in God each time. Or maybe to spend less time worrying about the future than before. Remembering God’s faithfulness to me has helped me understand God as a God who gives more than he takes.
Try it out. I bet you’ll find more reasons to trust God than you think.
Written by Chris S.