Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin... - Zechariah 4:10a NLT
Life post-grad has been difficult for me. Very difficult. I had two different internships that laid before me upon graduation and I didn't quite care which one I got as they both excited me, both allowed me to use my education and experience, both allowed me to do work for God's kingdom. But both fell through and I was stuck. I couldn't find work for nearly two and a half years, and I was depressed. I got angry with God. And I also got jealous. There were so many people I knew from college and even from high school who seemed to be living their best lives. They were moving, getting married, finding dream jobs, going on cool travels. They would share on their social media their adventures with friends and excitement about their careers. Meanwhile, I was still sitting on my bed, living at home with my parents, with no community, stressing myself out every day job searching. I began comparing my life to those I knew, thinking that mine wasn't worth it. I began to believe the lies from the devil's mouth that God had forgotten me, I wasn't important, I wasn't enough.
For me, I've had to learn by evaluating my heart and mind, and certainly seeking Scripture, that God has a different journey for each of us. No two lives will be the same. I'm different from my brother and sisters who are different from their friends, and I'm different from my friends. No two people will have the same trajectory in life. My skill set, spiritual gifts, education, and experience are unique to me; as unique as my own fingerprint. God has a distinct plan for my life and to be jealous and envious of someone else's simply because of a photo they chose to share on social media will always prevent me from living out God's best. Once I believe that God's plan for my life is good, no matter what it looks like to my eyes, then I am less likely to desire someone else's life and can begin living mine to the fullest with gratitude and joy. He has a plan for my life, one that will bring about more satisfaction and joy to me than I will ever know, but I will only know it if I keep my eyes on Him, believing in His plan for me now and for my future, and patiently wait expectantly on God as He moves in my life.
We all know the verse as we've seen it written in cute calligraphy and people quote it all the time, but it's Jeremiah 29:11-13. We typically stop after verse 11 but the last two are very important.
'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.'
- Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV
Notice what is required of us: calling upon God, praying to Him and seeking Him with our whole hearts. Jealousy and envy, they may start with our eyes but they have deep roots in the heart. When I choose to seek God with all my heart, there's no room for jealousy. He becomes my desire and He satisfies more than any job, any relationship, any adventure, anything this world has. I will begin to look to Him and not to the people around me.
Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. - Proverbs 23:17-18 ESV
I know that God is good, all the time, and so is His plan for me. He has a future for me, I need only to keep my hope and trust in Him. I know I have purpose, we all do. We all have the same purpose - to know God and make Him known - and we each have a unique way in which we fulfill this. God uses our circumstances and situations to prepare us for the specific way we do so, crafting us more into the women and men He desires us to be. If all our lives were the same, frankly, it'd be boring. This diversity in our stories is precisely what God uses to reach the world: our personal testimonies.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Elisabeth Elliot, "Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God's story never ends with 'ashes.’" Some days my life seems like ashes when compared to other people's beauty, but that simply means God's not done with my life yet. There's so much more to come and I trust that His plan, the beauty He wants to paint with my life, how He wants to use my life story, is greater than anything I can ever imagine.
1. If I'm comparing my life to others, wishing for their lives, why do I not trust God's plan for my life, present and future?
2. Rather than compare, what can I be grateful for that God has provided and blessed me with?
God, Thank You for being in control. What a relief and comfort that is! Help me to remember that I only see a small piece of the larger story You are personally penning. Help me develop my trust in You, and help me to be content and grateful with what I've been given. Let me be satisfied by You and Your goodness rather than to be bitter with envy and distracted by jealousy. Help me to keep my eyes on You, to desire You alone, and to wait patiently and expectantly on what You will do with my life. Amen.
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