With so many transitional situations forced upon us by the current economy, it’s easy for us to lose our way. It’s easy for us to lose our life’s focus, because we allow ourselves to get pulled off track. Even worse, is that many of us no longer remember what our focus was supposed to be. As a believer in Christ, however, we are called to trust in Him, always, no matter what the circumstance in which we find ourselves happens to be. We are called to focus on His way and His purpose for our lives.
In the past two years, specifically, I have taught numerous students that are in the middle of some type of life transition. Many of these precious men and women have come through my soft skills classes as people who have had to learn new skills and to redefine themselves in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and yes, even their 70’s. During the last year, however, the transitional situations for most of these people have been initiated by job loss. Many of these students, like much of the American population, have been unable to move beyond their initial shock and confusion. They continue to struggle in their attempts to gain peace and perspective within their respective transitions. They continue to struggle to reclaim their life focus.
Through anguished tears and expressions of self-doubt, these students have graciously shared their personal stories with me. Some have been out of work for as long as two years and have now lost their homes at a time where retirement was seemingly “just around the corner.” Others have gone through their initial savings accounts and find themselves in the process of depleting the last of any reserve funds. Some have families and some don’t. Some are married and others are not. Yet with all of the differences in their individual situations, there are two things that most of these students have in common: The first is their belief in God. The second is their struggle with unbelief while they walk with Him.
When we, as Christians, lose our “focus”, it’s easy to be plagued by unbelief. We may outwardly profess to others that God is in control, while internally, we are a swirling and unrestrained current of unbelief. We are gripped by unbelief that God is doing anything active in our situation or even listening to our pleas for help and rescue.
To regain our Christian “focus”, I believe that God calls us to do the following things:
- Remember that, as believers in Christ, we are not going through our trials alone. He will be with us and sustain us. God is with us through all of our experiences. He never leaves us. We are told in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” In addition, we are told in Isaiah 41:10 to:“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Think back through the timeline of your life and remember the trials you’ve previously faced where you knew God was with you. Reflect on how He walked with you through those trials. Do you believe He is with you, even now, as you face your current trials? Why or why not?
- Remember that we aren’t called to understand everything God is doing all of the time. Isaiah 55:8-9 puts it this way: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” We are called, however, to exercise our faith that He is at work, even though we may not see with our eyes everything that He’s doing. 2Corinthians5:7 explains it to us like this: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Think about your life journey. What challenges have you previously gone through, confused, only to see and understand the purpose behind it later? What is God doing in your life right now that you don’t understand? How can you walk more in faith with Him, than by sight?
- Remember that we are called to surrender the wholeness of our lives to Him always, not just part of our lives part of the time. If we depend on Him and release our struggles to Him, He will show us the right path to take for our lives. He will show us His will for our lives. The issue for a lot of Christians is that we want His help and deliverance only during times of great stress and tribulation. The rest of the time, we try to grant Him vacation days! In fact, we can allow our relationship with Him to even become “lukewarm” during times of peace and calm. We forget that we’re to seek Him in ALL areas of our lives, ALL of the time. We need only ask Him for His direction for our lives, and the bible tells us that He will grant it. We are reminded in James 1:5 that:“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” What area of your life have you not surrendered to God? Why do you think you haven’t surrendered that area? What first step could you take towards surrender in that area? What do you think is holding you back?
- Remember that through our times of tribulation, our faith is being refined. It’s easy to have faith when things are obvious and right in front of us. It’s not so easy when things aren’t. During those times when things aren’t so obvious, we have to refine our spiritual ears and eyes to see and hear Him. Romans 5:3-4 speaks of faith-refining trials when it says: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” How might He be using your current struggle to refine your faith? How might your refined faith be used to help others facing similar struggles?
Remember that He wants to grant us the desires of our hearts. When we live a life of surrender, He will grant us the desires of our heart because those desires line up with His purpose for our lives. In fact, in that situation, He has placed those desires within us. 1John 5:14-15 says to us: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Further, Psalms 37:4-5 says to us to: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” For many who have suffered a job loss recently, it may be that God is providing an opportunity. He may be providing the chance to realign our lives with His purpose so that He may, indeed, grant us the desires of our hearts. Have you confessed the desires of your heart to Christ? Do you think He hears you? Are you afraid to be honest with Him about your desires? If so, why?
I believe that for many of us, during these times of transition, He’s giving us a chance to change our focus, restate our values, and reprioritize our lives. He will help us overcome those areas of unbelief; we need only ask. Have you confessed your areas of unbelief to Him? Is your current focus on Him and His purpose for your life, or is it focused on the immediate ease of your current struggle? What first step could you take, today, to align your focus with His purpose for your life?