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Your Turn: When God Plays the Long Game

I’ve never been particularly fast at anything in life. I prefer to take my time, stopping to observe and enjoy life rather than rushing to fit things in. I’m more of a distance runner than a sprinter. If I’m walking with friends, I’m always the one picking up the rear. You would think that being somewhat of a “tortoise” type of person, I would have a highly developed patient spirit, both with others and with God.

Sadly, this is not the case. When God doesn’t work in the ways I expect or seems to absent at difficult times in my life, my first instinct isn’t always trust. Instead, I far too often let doubt, worry and fear cloud my perspective. But over the past year and a half, God has shown me that He is present in those times of fear and uncertainty. He is playing the long game, and just as with biblical examples like Job, Joseph and Abraham, He is working through those circumstances in ways I could never have imagined.

The Big Let Down

Summer 2012 was a bad season for me. In July, I found out I didn’t get a job I applied for; I dropped and shattered my iPad, and my car was rear-ended — all within about two weeks. Then in August, a day before my 25th birthday, I was rejected from another job and received some really discouraging feedback.

Needless to say, I was devastated. Where was God in all of this? Those last two weeks of August were rough. I shed a lot of tears and moped around, all the while asking God “why?”

What Now?

Those days were hard. But I knew that I couldn’t mope around the house forever. I had to move forward. Looking back, here are a few of the things that helped me through that time.

1. Don’t hold it all together. I have a history of being strong in crisis, holding things together and putting on a brave face in front of others. But that summer, when I felt I bottomed out, I gave in. My emotions were raw, and instead of keeping them inside, I let myself fully experience them. This isn’t an excuse to sit at home and cry all day, but at the same time, you need to be honest with yourself and others about what you’re going through.

2. Seek help from others. This was huge for me. Hand-in-hand with keeping it all together, I also tend to go it alone and not share my struggles. But right at my lowest point, God brought a mentor into my life, a godly woman who I could trust to listen, pray and offer advice. This, in turn, led to my seeking help from a professional, a therapist who has helped me deal with issues that have been a part of my life for years. On top of this, I had supportive family and friends who were praying me through my self doubt.

3. Don’t give up on God. I won’t pretend that I have a perfect devotional life or that I have a pristine track record of prayer and Bible reading. But those times of doubt are when we need these habits the most and also when Satan would most love for us to let our devotions go by the wayside. That’s why we need to build our Bible muscles in times of strength so that those habits are in place in the dark times, even when our desire isn’t always there.

On the Other Side

A year and a half after that discouraging summer, I have some perspective. I can see that without a doubt, God was working through that rejection in ways I never could have dreamed. I didn’t get the job I thought I wanted, but God brought me other work and also the opportunity to move to a new city, something I didn’t think I wanted and most certainly would not have done had I gotten that job.

Since moving, I started going to a new church, where I have gotten involved in various ministries and also joined a small group. Through this small group, I have experienced a sense of Christian community that I never had before.

I’ve also joined a Crossfit gym, where I have pushed myself physically in ways I never could have imagined and done things I never thought possible. If I had gotten that job, I would still be working out at my same old gym in my hometown.

All this happened because God didn’t give me what I thought I wanted. If I choose to trust Him, God shows me that by taking His time, He might not work things out the way I would, but in a way that is perfect for me, in His time. So the next time you feel defeated, discouraged and cannot comprehend what on earth God is doing, be patient. He might just be playing the long game.

 Hilary Wiebe works as a teacher, nanny and translator and enjoys Crossfit, baking, and adventures with friends. 

If you would like to contribute a post to the Boundless blog’s “Your Turn” Friday feature, see “Writers Wanted” for more details.

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