A few years ago, I asked the Lord for a job as a nurse case manager closer to my children in Chattanooga. 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 and with greater specificity: “This case management job, Lord.” I got the job, and saw it as a “yes” to a very specific request.

Meanwhile, a small voice nagged, “Be careful what you pray for.”

Two months into the job, I felt as lost as a small ball in tall weeds. I’d 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’d 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’ve always marveled at people who seem to hear God speak 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, which subject to major in, or what job to take. Instead, what I read was more and more of Christ.

Perhaps that was precisely the point?

The Bible didn’t tell me whether to marry my husband, which subject to major in, or what job to take. Instead, what I read was more and more of Christ.

The crucible of a difficult job can bring us to acknowledge afresh our need for God. 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? Could he help me understand where he was working? And could he help me do a great job as a case manager?

One of the ways we can often see God working is through the lives of godly coworkers. If misery loves company, at least I had company. I met Susan—the woman I’d seen on the newscast. She was every bit the person I imagined her to be. I admired her faith in action and her long-suffering spirit despite a demanding caseload.

Not only that, but she was an excellent nurse case manager. She’d learned her craft well. Her competent and faithful care as a nurse 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’s office, where she endured a reprimand for something she’d 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.

When you ache for concrete answers, make it your higher goal to draw near to Christ. Seeing a difficult job through the lens of the gospel can transform your perspective while you await his answer. Not long afterward, 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 the consequences of 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 moved forward with her first and second interviews. She waited on the Lord as her “No” changed to “Go.” She accepted the director job, and we rejoiced together.

As we prayerfully move through work decisions, let’s yearn for Christ more than a definitive answer to our specific questions. Sometimes we make the wrong decision, believing with all our heart we’re 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, even the time that feels wasted. And along the way, he offers us a reminder that many of our personal decisions aren’t exclusively about us.

Editors’ note: 

A version of this article was originally published at enCourage.

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