A few years ago, I asked the Lord for a job closer to my children in Chattanooga, as a nurse case manager. When I saw a woman on a local news show speaking about case management, I looked up the hospital where she worked and applied for a job. I prayed confidently with greater specificity: “this case management job, Lord.” I prayed in faith and received what I saw as a yes to a very specific request.
Meanwhile a still small voice nagged, “be careful what you pray for.”
Two months into the job I felt as lost as a small ball in the tall weeds. I had advised friends unhappy at work to persevere at least a year before making a change. Sitting in those same circumstances, I didn’t care much for my advice. Still, I had prayed specifically for this job and had a definite yes to my request. Was God leading me in his will, or simply allowing me to experience the folly of my own choices?
I had admired people who seemed to hear God speak to them specifically in their quiet times. That was never my experience—at least in answering very specific questions. The Bible didn’t tell me whether to marry my husband, what to major in school, or what job to take. Instead, what I read was more and more of Christ.
Perhaps that was precisely the point?
The crucible of a difficult job can be the very thing that brings us to acknowledge afresh our need for Him. I began praying for more of Christ in my work circumstances. Would he be with me as I walked through my day? Would I be a fragrant aroma of His love despite the challenges my job brought? Could he help me understand where he was working in my present job? And most of all, could he help me do a great job as a case manager?
One of the ways we can see God working in a difficult job may be through the lives of godly coworkers. If misery loved company, at least I had company. I met Susan—the same woman whom I had seen on the news cast. She was every bit the person I had imagined her to be. I admired her faith in action at work, and her longsuffering spirit despite a demanding caseload. Most of all, she was an excellent nurse case manager. She had learned her craft well, executed it consistently. It was her competent and faithful care as a nurse that glorified God. Susan shared her hopes of a promotion, and I watched her work through the disappointment when that didn’t occur. Twice. Shortly thereafter she was summoned to the boss’ office, where she endured a reprimand for something she had said. Instead of being defensive, Susan apologized. I admired her humility, because I wasn’t sure she deserved a rebuke.
Still, she remained committed to her present job. “I feel God has called me here,” she said. “When I’ve asked about going elsewhere, God has always said ‘No.’”
I leaned forward. “No? Are you sure he didn’t say ‘Go!’?”
When you ache for concrete answers, make it your higher goal to draw near to Christ. Seeing a difficult job through the lens of Christ can transform your perspective while you wait on his answers. Not long after this, I received an email about a case management job opening at another hospital. Lord, if this isn’t your will, then do not allow me to get an offer.
As I waited for a job interview and follow-up offer, I looked back with gratitude at how God drew near to me while I walked through what felt like a bad decision. I asked God to grant me contentment in either a yes, or a no. Great job or challenging one, he was enough. I am grateful he answered with a yes.
A week before I left, a new job opening showed up in my inbox.
“Please Help us find a new Director of Nurse Case Management.”
I prayed, “Lord, if it is your will, please let Susan consider this job”
I forwarded the email to Susan with a gentle admonition: “Are you sure he said ‘No’?”
The next few weeks we prayed, and Susan prayerfully moved forward with first and second interviews. She waited on the Lord as her “No” changed to “Go.” She accepted the director job and we both rejoiced together.
As we prayerfully move through work decisions, let’s yearn for more of Christ than a definitive answer to our specific questions. Sometimes we opt for the wrong decision believing with all our heart we are following the Lord’s leading. Let’s remember our hearts are deceitful and can betray us. I am grateful God’s plan can’t be thwarted by our bad decisions. He redeems all, and along the way offers us a reminder that many of our personal decisions aren’t exclusively about us.
About the Author:
Gaye Clark is a case manager for Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She writes in her free time. She is the widow of James Clark, mother of Anna and Nathan, and grandmother to Clark Jaymes. You can follow her Facebook Writer’s page-Gaye Clark or on Twitter.