“I guess we won’t be able to get recessed lights for the living room,” I sighed. One by one, the two floor lamps we had used for lighting had broken. Only a lone table lamp now lit the room.
Our home is a 1950’s rancher that we’ve been remodeling. We had planned to install recessed lighting in the spring, but our vehicle had needed some major work, so we decided to put it off until autumn.
Now, autumn was quickly passing. It was getting dark earlier each day. And it was starting to look like we’d need a lot more than recessed lighting to get us through the long gloomy winter.
My husband, Josh, had just received the news we’d been anticipating for some weeks. Like many others in our struggling economy, he no longer had a job. His company was closing its doors.
A few days later, Josh came home with a big grin, “I got those recessed lights for the living room!”
“What! How?” I exclaimed.
He explained it was being demoed on a jobsite he’d visited. Right as they were going to toss the lights, Josh asked if he could have them, since they still worked. He was told he could take them.
It ended up being almost exactly the amount of lights we needed for our living room! That weekend, Josh installed them. The lights chased away the gloomy shadows and instead created a cheerful ambiance.
It was if God was saying, “I see you and I want to show you that I know what you need. Nothing is too hard for me. Trust me and I will take care of you and your family.”
God’s care was so personal and perfectly timed. It was just what I needed to build my peace and trust for the months ahead.
Learning to Cling
In the beginning of our unemployment I was simply learning to cling. The first few weeks of job loss I was definitely prone to anxiety. I had no idea how we were going to make ends meet. The money coming in didn’t match the money going out, even when we pared the budget down to essentials.
I became acutely aware of how I needed to rely on God to meet the needs of my family. I also began noticing God at work in my life like never before. The months of testing through unemployment became sweet as He drew me closer to Himself. Everywhere I looked, God strengthened my heart with many reminders of His faithfulness.
While reading to my sons, The Jesus Storybook Bible before bed, I was reminded that it’s God who controls the storm and God who multiplies the loaves and the fishes. A friend of mine, who didn’t yet know anything of our situation, sent me a link to a sermon on Jeremiah 17:7-8, which reminded me:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
When reading Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps by Leigh McLeroy, I was confronted with this question: “Would [I] cling to what God has given, or would [I] cling to God alone?” I felt God whispering this question into my very soul. And while pondering this thought, my eyes drifted to the subtitle of the chapter. It was “The God Who Provides.” My eyes welled with tears.
All of these examples were tokens of God’s kindness to me. They piled onto my soul as sources of strength and trust. They were gifts of grace. And they reminded me of the greatest gift of all: God Himself. I was learning to cling to God, alone.
The Promise of Peace
Soon, anxiety gave way to peace. Real peace. Perfect peace. Peace that surpassed all understanding. Philippians 4:6-9 says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I can honestly say that peace became the theme of our months of unemployment. It wasn’t because I’m super spiritual, or even because I took every request and need to God like I’m supposed to. I fail at that time and again. But I did experience supernatural peace. Enveloping me like a warm blanket, comforting me with rest and security. This peace was like a divine gift slowly unwrapped before me. Each day I discovered a new facet of peace that I’ve never experienced before.
The peace I experienced can be summed up in the lyrics of a kid’s song from the album, To Be Like Jesus:
Peace, You give me peace
When the storms come and I’m afraid
Peace, You give me peace
When I trust in the words You say
You give me peace.
If You can calm the sea
Then You can comfort me
If winds obey Your voice
Why should I fear their noise
And though my eyes can’t see
I know You’re with me.
Trust in the Tough Spots
Josh did get a job. Three months to the day after being laid off. We’d been specifically praying God would provide a job by the end of January 2010. And He surprised us by doing just that. Josh had the opportunity to switch industries and now has a wonderful job that’s both exciting and challenging.
The blessings, tangible and otherwise, that have come from this “bad” situation have been overwhelming. If I’ve taken away anything from this experience, it’s that God’s worthy of my trust. I know that I’ll experience more trials in the future. This has simply been a practice run. No doubt those trials may be far more serious than mere unemployment. But I’ve learned that when tough times come, I have the opportunity to cling to God, allowing my trust in Him to deepen, experiencing perfect peace.
And I’m reminded of that every time I switch on the living room lights.