Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you. James 4:7-8 NIV
I've read these verses in James countless times, but today the words felt life-changing.
In 2015, I was praying for God to bring me nearer to Him. I was also praying that he would change my challenging work circumstances. In August 2015, I was asked to come to my boss’ office for what I thought might be my long-promised promotion. Instead, I was laid off. I was hurt, angry, humiliated and afraid, but as I stepped to the outside sidewalk, I had to laugh a little, thinking, “Well, I guess God answered my prayer about changing my work situation!”
That was two years ago.
I have always thought myself to be a strong person and I have been blessed with professional success. These two years of job searching have been brutal. My savings and 401k are gone. My self-image is battered. My husband and I have had to ask for financial help from family to keep from losing our home.
While I currently remain jobless, I’d like to share some encouragement:
GOD ANSWERS PRAYER! I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has answered my prayers in the past, which increases my faith now. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” NIV
GOD BLESSES YOU DURING TIMES OF TRIAL. You can make yourself sick by focusing on the fear and anger, or you can focus on the blessings. I have been given the gift of time with my children and grandchildren. God has allowed me to be a blessing to friends and former coworkers who are experiencing similar circumstances. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” NIV
PART OF DRAWING CLOSER TO GOD IS TRUSTING HIM IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. Fear is a powerful weapon of Satan. Fear is the opposite of Faith. Over the past two years, God has brought me consulting engagements and family support at critical junctures. I can’t say that I’m not still afraid, but I can say that God is faithful, and I spend less time in fear. In Psalm 56:3 David says, "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." NIV
God opened my eyes as I re-read James 4:7-8 and showed me (1) It is not God’s job to draw me near to him, and (2) I have work to do if I want him to come near to me! I am to Submit myself to God; Resist the devil so that he will flee from me; and Come near to God, and then he will come near to me! It might sound crazy, but knowing that God has given me clear action steps to get closer to Him makes me feel empowered during a time when I feel powerless. I was waiting to write a new testimony until I had a new job, but I am writing now with the prayer that anyone who is struggling will be encouraged with me right now, during their trial too.
Father, Thank You for giving us Your Word so that we can learn about You. Thank You that You are loving, faithful, constant, and all powerful. Thank You that you make all things work together for our good, even when we don’t make the best choices. Thank You for Jesus, who justifies us and makes it possible for us to have a relationship with You. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us. Thank You for letting us be part of the body of Christ, sharing our burdens together to Your glory. Please help us to draw closer to You every day. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.