About five months ago we learned that my job was going to be made part-time. At that point I was the main "bread-winner" while Tim was in school and working a couple of shifts as a server to supplement our income. My job also provided insurance benefits which were essential since I was pregnant, but going part time meant I'd lose those. When we heard the news, it wasn't totally unwelcome as I'd been toying with the idea of being a stay at home mom ever since I'd found out about baby #2. I have until the end of the year to finish up my role which seemed liked ample time for Tim to find a full time job. Little did we know just how hard it would be to get offered a salaried position with benefits in a job market that was failing everyone, including college graduates and highly skilled workers (which Tim is not). At some point in the job search my dad came along side Tim and encouraged him to not sell himself short - to focus on applying for higher paying, managerial jobs in a broader category of industries instead of limiting himself to the food industry or to offers that tend to pigeon hole you into one area of expertise. He even sat down and completely revised his resume with him, polishing and refining it to really make Tim's qualifications shine. My dad is a successful businessman who's held high-level executive roles at two large, international companies; he's also looked at hundreds upon hundreds of resumes and hired many people over the course of his career. Now I know Tim is a smart, hard-working, capable employee but when someone like my dad starts placing a lot of confidence in his skills and his potential to really "move up" in the world, it's hard to not be certain that a great job offer is only an interview or two away. Something with good pay, great benefits and most importantly, a career Tim could see himself growing and advancing in.
Fast forward four months. Four months of wondering, waiting, praying, begging and hoping. Hoping, hoping, hoping and believing that my prayers would be met with something really amazing, we just had to be patient. After sending out at least two hundred resumes, there have been three interviews. The first amounted to nothing when the company underwent a hiring restructure. The second was to be a driver for a chauffeur company with crazy hours, no benefits and uncertain income - an offer we couldn't accept. The third was yesterday's and it resulted in an offer. It's a stable job with awesome benefits. An answer to prayer, since one of our biggest fears was having this baby with no insurance and going tens of thousands of dollars into debt. The pay, on the other hand, would put us below the poverty line for a family of four. *Gulp* I wasn't expecting that. I also wasn't expecting the training required that would take Tim away for two weeks next month. Or that it would be a job with little to no room for advancement and minimal pay raise.
This coming Sunday is our Thanksgiving service at church, when people have the opportunity to share with the congregation how God has provided for them this year. Last Sunday I thought, "I'm going to have the faith that I'll be able to stand up at that service and say that God provided Tim the job we've been waiting for." But this job wasn't what I had pictured. I'm ashamed to say that I'm having a hard time responding to God with a "Thank you" and instead want to cry out, "This is it? This is what we've been waiting for?!" I'd set my hopes, or expectations rather, so very high that this came almost as a punch to the gut. Was I really going to have to lower my standard of living to the poverty level? I know, I know.... it's terrible a attitude to have, especially considering the thousands of other families out there who have less... sometimes nothing. Who don't even have the gift of saying they're employed, much less insured.
Somewhere between my bitter tears and bad attitude, I was reminded of a quote that goes something like, "If dependence is the goal than weakness is the advantage." I long for deeper relationship with God, but am guaranteed never to find it if I'm not willing to be led into places of pain, discomfort and perhaps even poverty. I don't remember any of the disciples living a life of comfort and luxury. If you look at heroes of the faith throughout the centuries their stories are often ones of everlasting joy in the midst of trials and tragedy. Jesus and his disciples did not live in the light of a "prosperity Gospel" so why on earth do we think we deserve to? Those brought to their knees by desperate circumstances have their lips pressed closest to God's ear and hands grasped tightest to the hem of his garment. And isn't that exactly where He wants us? Does Scripture not teach us that our purpose here on earth is not to store up earthly treasures, but to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, bearing our crosses for the glory of Him who promises a true reward at the end of this hard and troubled road called life? We are to consider it "pure joy" when we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2) - that it is to our advantage - because it is completing the good work that he began in us. When did I start buying into the lie that knowing God means avoiding difficult circumstances? If I say I believe God and His Word, then I must trust that these trials are good, even if they are hard. And so it is with a humble heart and a contrite spirit that I lay down my wants for what is better - the will of God who knows exactly what I need right now. Even though my flesh demands to plead the case of "what isn't" in my possession, there is so much more fruit in being thankful for what is - and isn't it good:
- We have the promise of health insurance for when the baby comes. This has been our most pressing need and concern.
- We have access to enough money to tide us over for the next several months.
- We are sheltered and well fed - basic needs that God has always provided us with.
- The company will provide Tim with a car which will save us on gas.
- Even though he'll be working long hours, he will be home three full days a week rather than two.
- He will get four days off to be with me in the hospital when I have the baby - a huge blessing.
- This job buys us more time to continue to look for a better opportunity.
- We are healthy and we have each other. We have family. We are loved.
- We have the hand of God to steady and guide us and lift us up when we are weak. I can't imagine what it's like to face trials without the knowledge of God or His strength to comfort you. He has neither forsaken nor forgotten us and we are blessed to be called His.
Tim is employed. We are insured. Two things that millions of others around the globe cannot claim. How on earth could I have the audacity to be ungrateful for what has been offered to us?
God you are loving and good.
Your ways are not my ways.
That in itself is worthy of praise.