Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.- Proverbs 3:5
You lose your parents before your 17th birthday. Tears, gloom, and perpetual sorrow haunt you like hungry vultures in a moonless night. But you trust in the Lord and believe that someday things will get better.
The only way to get things better you know is through books. You have heard the stories and you have seen the fruits. They’re people who escaped the unforgiving grip of poverty through books. And you strongly believe that your name one day will be listed among them.
And you know God has given you a gift with numbers.
Without food in your stomach, you study. Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Math, English Language, Shona, Building Studies or Biology, you don’t care. All you think about is passing, going to Advanced Level, going to university and getting a fancy job. Isn’t that the only way to escape poverty if you’re not musically inclined or athletically astute?
At first, everything goes according to plan. You meet several hurdles but you solder on. All you care about is the hope tied in the future. It’s like a glimpse of bright light flickering in the horizon like a morning star before dawn. There’s darkness so thick you can cut it with a chainsaw.
Yet, in all the pain and suffering you’re convinced that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. When the trail leads you to a cliff you don’t turn back but trust in the Lord who makes your feet like the feet of a deer. And your heart is filled with hope knowing that God will set you secure on the heights.
Remember Hope Sustained You Before
When you had no bus fare, you walked 20 miles to college. Sometimes in the rain and most of the times in the scorching tropical heat. You ran in an empty stomach, studied in an empty stomach, prayed in an empty stomach and fasted in an empty stomach. Yet you believed in the God who is the father of the fatherless.
There was no one to pay your college tuition. Everyone was busy minding their own business. Even that uncle who stood up at your mother’s funeral and pledged to support you and your brothers. You’re alone. What did you do?
Instead of focusing on your studies since it was your final year, you took a full-time temporary job. And you every morning, you went to work while your friends went to school. If that wasn’t crazy enough, you had two jobs plus school. But the Lord gave you strength and wisdom.
Finally, you get the bachelor’s degree. You’re the first person to go to college in your family and your extended family. It’s not surprising that you are in cloud nine. You now have a stable job with an excellent salary. Finally, you escaped from poverty.
But the excitement quickly dies down like a fire made from papers. Reality checks in; in the career path you chose, a first-degree isn’t enough. You need a Ph.D. or you’ll lose your job. And you get anxious.
God hears your prayers. You get the most prestigious scholarship. And you’re the happiest man on earth. The same year you got married, you finally get a scholarship to study abroad. Indeed, he who finds a wife finds a good thing and had obtained favor from the Lord.
Hope is found in the full story
It’s now five years, your name has officially been added a suffix. Yes, everyone now calls you doctor. It’s amazing. You’re now a role model and everyone looks up to you. When Psalm 113:7 is mentioned, people look at you, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.”
This is the story they all know: he lost all his parents, trusted in God, and has now attained the highest academic qualification. It’s a linear narrative, a typical redemption story with only the characters, time and places changed. The story is true but not complete.
It ignores the nights you didn’t sleep thinking of quitting. Nor does it give Jesus Christ enough credit for stepping up when you thought your dream was up in smokes like a treehouse in a wildfire. And this story neglects your present circumstances.
Your present situation messes up the story. It makes people think God is a failure. You can’t say that you have applied to 1,000+ jobs and didn’t get called for an interview. Don’t even mention you prayed about finding a job because people will think God doesn’t answer prayers.
You try to tell other believers your family is now struggling because of debts and unemployment. But they tell you everything is going to be fine and God will answer you at the right time. But you wonder, does God know that you have rent to pay and kids to feed?
In two weeks, the landlord will be knocking on your door. He will be asking for his rentals and you don’t know how you’re going to answer him. And you don’t know what you’re going to do. This thought spirals you into depression.
Trust in Jesus Christ is the tree of life
Failing to get a job after 1,000+ applications can only mean one thing. Never trust your work experience and education. They will definitely fail you. But above all, never put your hope in anything or anyone besides Jesus Christ.
Every application you made, you looked at the selection criteria and you were convinced you qualified for the positions. You hoped that you would get the job. You had faith. But your faith was not in Jesus, it was in your experience and qualifications.
You believed in finding a job more than you believed in Jesus Christ.
Hope deferred makes the soul sick. Your soul has been sick more than a 1,000 times. Every rejection letter and every no response pierced your heart with a blunt surgical knife. Your heart bleeds like a burst oil pipeline in a pristine forest and the pain is real.
But even though hope deferred makes the soul sick, you remember that a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. You wonder, “Is my longing to find a job the tree of life?” No, if this was so then everyone with a good job will be satisfied and at peace.
Only Jesus Christ can be a tree of life. Not a job, a house or a country. You might not have a job now. And you might not find it as soon as the next due date for your rentals. But you no longer hope in finding a job or your friends and family giving you groceries and paying your rent. Your hope is in Jesus Christ, the tree of life.