Written By Joanna Tan, Singapore
Nobody ever told me that life after graduation would feel like this. I thought graduation was about getting myself a job. But as my job hunt dragged on longer than I expected, I started to feel increasingly anxious and lost.
Not finding a job after graduation felt like a form of failure. I felt a lot of shame over being unemployed and I thought twice about meeting up with friends whom I knew would make me feel more discouraged about not having a job. Initially, it was hard to let go of the anger I felt towards people who didn’t understand.
Yet it was during this journey of unemployment that I learned to see what was truly important in my life.
Finding comfort in God
In this difficult time, I found comfort in the stories of women in the Bible who were not able to conceive, such as Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth. Like these women who felt ashamed because of their inability to conceive, I felt ashamed about my own predicament. Yet God understood their pain in ways that others around them could not, and He loved them and blessed them graciously. When I felt horrible about myself, I knew that God understood me, and I felt as if God Himself was hugging me.
When sadness threatened to overwhelm me, I read God’s Word all the more eagerly, holding tightly to His promises. I was encouraged and comforted when I was able to see my circumstances through God’s eyes. Though I had little faith in myself, my circumstances, and my future, God gave me faith to look to Him―and to realize that He is the only hope I can ever have. I realized that nothing could make me less worthy in God’s eyes, and I found so much comfort and joy in that. Whether or not I had a job, God loved me. I learned to be defined in Christ alone, and not by my abilities or achievements.
Finding confidence in God
At one point, I received a job offer. All that was left was to wait for the start date. But unexpectedly, and though I did nothing wrong, the offer did not materialize. I wrestled for a long time before choosing not to pursue the matter anymore. Though it was really heart-wrenching, I chose to trust in God’s sovereignty and plans for me.
Through this episode, I realized that there was nothing I can place my confidence in. This continues to be a lesson for me daily, that the only hope that never fails is the hope I place in my Lord Jesus Christ. I could lose my job. I could have cancer. I could lose my loved ones. What then? I can only be secure in God because He never changes. Those who hope in the Lord will never be disappointed.
This journey of waiting and trusting has taught me that the sense of security I get from what I can see―such as a job, relationship, or even myself―is ultimately an illusion. My true security lies in Christ.
Jeremiah 17:7 But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
Finding strength in God
Though it can be frightening when it seems like God doesn’t care or He doesn’t know, the truth is that He does. One important thing that I learned during the months of unemployment is how valuable God’s Word is. I found so much comfort and joy when I start my day by praying and reading His word. Aligning my perspective with His is how I can face the frightening day ahead. I was particularly comforted by the Psalms, how David called out to God and even brought praise to God in difficult circumstances. Reading God’s Word is the only way to help me stand firm when I’m tempted to believe my anxious thoughts or discouragements from others.
Job searching was like walking in the dark trying to open a door. All the doors I tried were closed, but I had to keep walking and trying, knowing that God loves me and is always with me. I will not despair, because life is more than what I perceive. Life is more than the disappointments I face. I have found hope and purpose for my life in Christ. I have learned to have this full and complete trust that God will deliver me, just as God delivered King David from death again and again. No matter how many times I fail, God is still in control and He, who is faithful, will definitely lead me, guide me, and provide all that I need in all the days of my life.
Psalm 62:5 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him.
Job searching was not a season of nothingness. I was not just waiting to get a job so I could move on to the next phase of life. Waiting is never because God doesn’t know how torturous the wait is, or because God doesn’t care. It was through this precious journey of anxiety and hopelessness that God touched my heart and reminded me to re-evaluate the true purpose of my days. My unemployment was not about finding a job, but about finding my worth and confidence in God.
Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.