Do you believe that Jesus found satisfaction in his time as a carpenter? Many people do not find satisfaction in their work life, their days are far more “toilsome.” For those of us who find ourselves in that situation, how can we use our time of chronic illness and/or trauma to realign ourselves with work that satisfies us?
Okay, so we get knocked off our feet with chronic illness and/or trauma in our lives. We get so off kilter that everything appears to crumble in our lives. The reality is, things did crumble.
So what can we do with that situation to make some fantastic choices for our lives that allow the fire of the situation to refine us, into more of what God has already planned for our lives?
Ecclesiastes presents us with a look at what is “observed to be good” for our toilsome labor that is required in life. The author tells us that we can “find satisfaction” in that labor. This is like God giving us permission to work at jobs that we actually like, that bring us satisfaction.
The author of Ecclesiastes most likely is Solomon according to Jewish and Christian tradition and the information provided in scripture.
“This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.” ~ Ecclesiastes 5:18 (NIV)
Losing Health Offers a Transition to Work Satisfaction
While we are in the depths of poor health and/or onslaught of the emotional upset over trauma in our lives, we can lose the ability to work. This does not necessarily have to be a bad thing for a Christian.
It can be a time to examine the quality of the work we had before the loss. Was it “satisfying?” Did it bring us joy and peace because we knew we were where we belonged? Did we feel like we were fulfilling a purpose? Or was there upset in the workplace that caused strife in our lives that may have contributed to the physical and emotional health crisis in the first place?
During times of chronic illness and/or trauma, we usually have way too much time on our hands to reflect on our lives. I spent way too much time reflecting on the bad stuff but when I finally got to the good side of it all, there were some tremendous insights about my labors that created a living.
While being a single mom for over a decade, an income was the priority, not satisfaction. I was so grateful to be able to provide for my children that I accepted the situation and felt I made the best of that particular situation. Then I became so ill that I could no longer work, in any capacity.
After the disappointment, anger and blaming subsided, I was able to see it all as a blessing. The “satisfaction” that I received during my time of working through single-parenting was the fact that I could provide for my children. That was satisfaction enough at the time. With children now grown, that satisfaction was completely removed. Time to ask the Lord specifically what he wanted me to do for labor that would be satisfying after I healed from the physical onslaught.
During the time in bed with grave chronic illness, I was provided with time to sort this out with the Lord. He provided the loss of ability to work so that he could provide something with much greater satisfaction.
God always knows our needs and provides for our needs. For me, “satisfaction” in our labors to make a living is the “riches of his glory.” We get the icing on the cake when we have satisfaction from our labor.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:19 NIV
Reframe the Situation
For me, it took practice to be able to reframe this into an adventure instead of great loss. Simply dealing with such grave health kept me busy and depressed, figuring out how to make a living seemed quite useless for a few years until I reframed the situation to be able to see the opportunity.
Opportunity for adventure started to settle into my mind. God can do anything so why couldn’t I explore the possibilities in my mind for future satisfying employment? First I had to let go of the anxiety around the situation, then pray about this specifically and actually learn to thank God for the current situation of poor health that I knew would open doors I could not yet imagine.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6 NIV
Using the Down Time for Good
While we are “down” and not able to work, we can still use this time for good. We can explore the possibilities of a work transition, from bed of all places. The key is to do it with God, not fighting him or tuning him out.
Some people know exactly what they would do if they could change their profession. For those people, go for it!!!
For the rest of us, an extended period of down time can present the perfect environment to explore the options. God already knows the answer but until we know, the adventure of exploration can keep our minds productively occupied.
The source of all adversity is not fully known by man. Illness, pain, trauma, abuse – all adversity is not from God, yet it is not all from satan either. Regardless of the source of our current situation, we can accept that God has our backs.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” ~ Genesis 50:20 NASB
Dig deeper, grow more: What was meant for evil, God uses for good – by Max Lucado
Use His Power to Imagine the Satisfying Labor
Go wild, explore ideas that you have already imagined and it will most likely take you places you did not expect.
I am just fascinated with the Internet, more so during my long years of chronic illness. I was able to search on any topic I desired. It is a great place to explore any interest that you have that might lead to providing an income later.
While I was in so much pain from Lyme disease I could not imagine my body enduring the sitting up to view the computer or the hand movement to type. I could only do what I could do. So I did it, every single day. Doing only what we can do at the moment that we can do it will build on itself over time.
As I moved through the years of 1) physical wracking pain that limited my movement, 2) vision difficulties that limited seeing the written word, 3) brain limitations that halted my ability to process information, I slowly worked through it all.
Eventually I was able to find my special interest that I knew belonged specifically to me. It was just like receiving my assignment of service. It was all about health, mainly natural health which includes the emotional and spiritual impact. I was fascinated and found that I was hooked for life. I found myself dreaming about it. It was a good fit for me and my particular situation.
Ever so slowly, I was able to invest time into the research I needed to know if it could provide an income, and how. Very very slowly I made choices and worked my way through the certification while still incredibly ill. I was given the strength by God, it certainly was not my own. It is amazing to watch what God can do with us while we are ill in bed.
Then with the certification behind me, God showed me the next logical step, then the next and the next. I had so many years in bed and homebound that I had the time to make the errors, stumble through the failures and grow through the experience, at a pace that I could handle. It was a blessing to have this to keep me busy when I could handle it and I could set it aside when I had too many physical limitations.
Without the Lord showing me exactly what I could handle at any given moment, I would have given up. Instead I trusted that he had already created me and his perfect plan for my life. I trusted that the Holy Spirit revealed God’s assignment for me through a satisfying job. The details slowly fell into place, very slowly. It will always be a work in progress and with the guidance of God. I will stay on the right path.
As I rely on his power, not mine, I will be shown how this task-at-hand ends up being far beyond what I have imagined, it already is.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” ~ Ephesians 3:20 NIV
Desires of Your Heart Leads to Satisfying Labor
Explore the desires of your heart, your true interests, and see how it may match up to a change in your profession so that you may have satisfying labor on the other end of this down time.
There are countless success stories of people changing careers, at any age and in any circumstance.
Remember, as we live in Christ we live above circumstances, not below them.
Make a list of any wild crazy desire of your heart. Pray on it. See where the Holy Spirit takes you. For me, it was like being forced to be still during years of incredible misery yet using that time to explore his possibilities for my life. There were many days I could picture the Lord sitting on top of me to hold me down, keeping me still.
Have you ever been still and moving forward at the same time?
Have you ever fully trusted God in your time of adversity and during that time of patiently waiting, opened your vision to what he may be trying to show you?
Kind of tricky to do both at the same time but as we learn to be still we can hear him better. In that time of stillness we can be more open to ideas for our lives that we would never slow down to hear before. The beauty of the end result of these experiences are more than worth it.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” ~ Psalm 37:5-7a NIV
Cling to the Hope we have in God
The Book of Ecclesiastes shows us great hope. We can see, through the vision of God, that our times of troubles can be what shows us a new hope. We can cling to God as we move through the adversities of life and move into new adventures through our employment.
If you are like myself, you are still breathing and seeing the sun come up every single morning. With the opportunities that each day brings, exploring the possibilities for satisfying labor can be a grand adventure when doing it through the vision of hope.
Through hope we see everything with a more pure heart, a heart for God and his perfect plan for our lives.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” ~ Matthew 5:8 NIV
Can you allow for the fact that during this time of adversity, there is opportunity to explore the possibilities of satisfying labor? Would a change in career paths nourish you and others?
Be messy, be yourself, have hope, see God and be blessed.
Maribeth Baxter, MBNC (Certified Mind-Body Nourishment Coach)