Written by Yang Ming, Singapore
My heart trembled as I scanned through the email. My worst fear had come to pass. My application to join an international arts group wasn’t accepted. Coupled with a slew of other job rejections I had received over the last 10 months, this was the last thing I needed.
I felt disillusioned. My creative endeavours were going nowhere, and I had been unemployed for the last few months despite putting my best foot forward. It was as if I’d been stripped bare of everything I placed my value in.
Over the next few days, I could neither face God nor pray to Him. I sat on my bed silently every night. Slowly, I became angry with God. When the affliction became unbearable, I finally cried out, “God, have you ever loved me?” I was startled at the question as it echoed through my heart.
But at that moment, I felt wounded, battered, and ashamed. I have been a Christian for many years, and have even served zealously in youth ministry. I have even proclaimed God’s goodness to other people, yet how could I doubt God’s love for me?
Despite my anger and disillusionment with God, I knew there were only two directions I could go: turn to God or turn away from God. As I considered my options, I was led to a verse in John 6:68, where after a particularly hard teaching, many of Jesus’ disciples decided to leave Him because they found it too hard to follow Him. Jesus then turned to His 12 disciples and asked them if they wanted to leave too. Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Like Simon Peter, I decided I wanted to remain faithful to God even though I couldn’t understand what was going on in my life, starting with these three areas:
1. Resetting my mind with worship
There were days when I struggled to worship God. Some days, I didn’t feel like it, and what’s more, I didn’t see the point of doing so. But through the examples of King David, the psalmists, and Job—all of whom experienced similar journeys of disappointment before, I recognised that it is okay not to feel okay before God because He knows what is hidden deep inside our hearts.
When King David’s son died because of his sin against the Lord, he went “into the house of the Lord and worshipped God” (2 Samuel 12:20). The psalmists often poured out their struggles and sorrow honestly before God, telling Him that “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is Your God?’” (Psalms 42:3). Job lost his children and his possessions. Yet he worshipped God by saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15).
These examples reminded me that though our emotions are real, they should not have the final say over our lives. Even though I felt like I was at the lowest point of my life, I began to muster whatever strength remaining in me to sing worship songs unto Him. Whether it was a simple hymn or a contemporary worship song, it helped me reset my mind and focus on Him. Gradually, those simple tunes calmed the storms in my heart and renewed it again.
2. Discovering God’s purpose through my trials
In those quiet moments of worship, it dawned upon me that God has always been faithful, but I set off on my own path, believing that my way was better than His way. Instead of waiting on God, I turned to other alternatives, such as confiding in my friends, reading books, and even googling for the answers I was seeking. I wanted an instant solution to my problems, and when things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, I got upset and walked away from Him, thinking He had abandoned me.
But while doing my quiet time one morning, I came across the story of Gideon in Judges 6:1-40, and it struck me how God was still merciful and gracious to the Israelites despite their disobedience. Even when they were oppressed, He was there with the Israelites. He heard their cries. That was why He sent Gideon. He is still sovereign in spite of everything.
This truth has deepened my understanding of God. Oswald Chambers shared in his devotion, My Utmost for His Highest, that “You must go through trial before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because by going through the trial you learn to know God better. God is working in us to reach His highest goals until his purpose and our purpose become one.”
This helped me to see that the purpose of my trials is not just to teach me life lessons, but to bring me face to face with God’s character and His purpose for me—which is to worship Him in all that I do.
Slowly, I began to see God in a new light. He showed me His faithfulness through the little things in life, such as, protecting my health, providing my every need during this challenging time, and bringing people into my life who looked after my wellbeing. Because of these, I know that I can rest in His unfailing love even when challenges loom ahead.
3. Remembering how much He delights in me
When it seems like our lives are going nowhere, it’s easy to become assailed by our fears and doubt. When I asked God if He had ever loved me, all I received was a deafening silence. It made me wonder if God was angry at me for questioning His love for me.
But He lovingly reminded me of a promise in Psalm 18:16-19:
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord is my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because He delighted in me.
I had been trying so hard to figure my life out that I had forgotten what it was like to be delighted over by God. I realise I don’t have to strive so hard to prove that I am good enough.
Over the past few months, I’ve learned that it is at the darkest hour of our lives that we should put our trust in God. In my Christian walk, I’ve experienced both moments of breakthrough and rejections. But whether we’re walking in the valleys or the mountaintop, these are fleeting moments. I may not know why my life is going a certain way, but I know God is the anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6:19), and that He has a purpose for me. No matter what I’m going through, He is the source of my comfort. He is still writing the narrative of my life, and it will be much better than I could imagine.
After months of job-hunting, I’ve managed to find a temporary position in a church. It’s not quite what I had in mind, but perhaps, this is a season for me to use my gifts to serve God. Nonetheless, God showed me He is a faithful God and my provider in time of need, and He’s also been leading me to other opportunities to showcase my work in my creative endeavours.
If you’re feeling like you’ve been walking through a dark tunnel and life seems to be going nowhere, I want to encourage you to cling on to His steadfast love for you. Don’t give up on Him. He is still a good God.