As you may know, I am currently unemployed (or semi-unemployed, I talk more about it here) and describe this season of unemployment as being in the wilderness.
I would say that to some extent, all of these definitions can seem to fit the season of unemployment. It is definitely inhospitable, especially since the future is so unknown, and because your current circumstances are not comfortable. Unemployment also seems uncultivated and uninhabited, when you are applying to jobs. At times, it feels like you are entering new territory. You are exploring new careers where you may not have any experience. When you’re in the wilderness, you feel like you are in a neglected or abandoned area. Everyone around you seems to be doing well. You look on Linked In and everyone seems to be working their dream job, while for you, there is no end in sight! There seems to be no leads, interviews, or job offers. You may even question why God would allow this to happen to you. Is it because of something you did? Have you lost God’s favor? Have you disobeyed him somehow? Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about the wilderness.
God Leads Us Into the Wilderness
In the Bible, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering the promise land. We often think of that time spent wandering as a form of punishment, as though the Israelites lost God’s favor and he neglected them. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.’ But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” -Exodus 13:17-18.
You can see in this verse God led the Israelites out of Egypt. He directed their path into the wilderness, and it was deliberate. God loved the Israelites, they were his chosen people. He knew his people, and he knew that if they took the easier more direct route, they might get scared of what was ahead and run back into slavery. So God led them into the wilderness. He was with them and he provided for their every need.
In the same way, God leads us into the wilderness. It may seem scary and unclear, but God is leading, and his leading is intentional.
God is With Us in the Wilderness and Provides for Our Every Need
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” -Exodus 13:21-22
God was literally with the people and led the way by cloud and fire! For food, he sent down quail and manna. When they were thirsty, God poured out water from a rock.
Similarly, God provides for us. In my previous post, I talked about how I have not experienced a single day of hunger in the time I have been unemployed. God has given me enough to survive, and he has given me plenty so that I can bless others. During this season of unemployment, I experience a closeness and intimacy with God because I get to know him as my provider and comforter. I have peace about unemployment that could only come from God!
God Knows What We Can and Cannot Handle
“The Lord your God will drive out these nations before you little by little. You will not be able to destroy them all at once; otherwise, the wild animals will become too numerous for you.” – Deuteronomy 7:22
God knew that if the Israelites defeated all of their enemies at once, the land would have been too much for them to handle. God used that time to make the Israelites depend and trust him day-by-day, every step of the way. God was in control, he knew what it would take for the Israelites to spiritually grow and be conformed to Christ’s likeness.
Likewise, God is committed to transforming me into Christ’s likeness. He is the potter and I am the clay. He knows how to mold me and make me into the instrument he wants me to be, to be used for his purpose. I have no idea what God has planned for me, but God does. And, he knows what it takes to get me there. He is using this season of unemployment in the wilderness to conform me to his image.
Hope in the wilderness
Lately, God has put this verse on my heart:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19
God is making a new way in the wilderness… I’m excited to see where God leads me next.