The Desert of Unemployment
Lately, I have been struggling with this season in the desert of unemployment. Yes, everyday of unemployment is a struggle. I am sure many of you understand that. But lately, it feels borderline unbearable. Technically, I am only pseudo-unemployed because I am working part-time retail. Yet, everyday that I work, I am filled with dissatisfaction and angst because I’m not using my education or the gifts God has given me.
Discontentment and Fear in unemployment
The other day, my discontentment was mounting and I was grumbling to God. I know God is taking me somewhere new, somewhere I haven’t been before. It sounds great until I realized to get there, I would have to go through a desert of unemployment (for over a year). In my grumbling, I asked, “Why, Lord?! I don’t want to be here! Anywhere but here!” He brought this verse to mind:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle. – Exodus 13:17-18
The answer he gave me was, “If I gave you the easier way out, you would get scared and turn back around to where you came from, where you were enslaved.” God knows me, and he knows what I would do if given the opportunity. In this case, he isn’t giving me the option to choose because I would choose the easier path. In this verse, it says, “God led the people…” God led. The people didn’t lead. In the same way, God is leading me in the way I should go. I just have to follow him.
Around by the Desert Road (of unemployment)
Umm… why would go around by the desert road?! Personally, I wouldn’t! Think about it, who wants to go into a desert?! Where there is no food or water? It’s hot! There is no shelter. You have to walk for miles on end. And, you don’t really know where the final destination is! That sounds terrible! Who would sign up for that?! I wouldn’t!! And that’s exactly why God has to take the lead. I would never willingly go where he wants me to go in the way he needs me to if I were given a choice.
toward the Red Sea
Again, why would I travel in the direction of a giant sea I can’t pass? That makes no sense! But, we know what God does at the Red Sea – his miraculous power and might is displayed. He made a way when there seemed to be no way for the Israelites to pass and escape the Egyptians. What’s more, the Egyptians tried to go through the same waters and God let the sea collapse around them. As a result, the Israelites feared and trusted the Lord. I know God is taking me toward the Red Sea so I will fear and trust him.
No Turning Back
What’s more…God would not allow the Israelites to turn back. For safe measure, he allowed the Red Sea to go back to normal. He essentially burned the bridge they used so they could not turn back. They would never be able to go back to life as they knew it. In the same way, I sense God is burning the bridge so that I cannot return to life as I knew it.
The Promise Land
We know where God wanted to take the Israelites –> to the Promise Land, a land flowing with milk and honey! But they never would have ventured there if God didn’t lead the way. They would have taken the short route, gotten scared, and run back to slavery. That was me just a few weeks ago. I was telling God, I don’t want to do this anymore! I want to go back!! Essentially, to slavery!
What’s crazy is that I was miserable at my last job. It got to a point where I was ready to quit. I prayed and asked God to do something to change my work circumstance. I asked him to either give me peace or hope about the situation, or move me, or move my boss, or lay me off. That week, I got laid off. God heard my cry and answered my prayer!!
In a sense, I was freed from slavery! But a year and a half later and I am wanting to run back! Not necessarily to that job, but to any other job. But every job I have applied to, the door has closed. God isn’t giving me the option to go back. He is taking me through the long scenic route…through the desert…and toward the Red Sea.