Unprecedented Times — But Two Things Never Change
By Dr. James Thrasher
Leading a college Career Services Office department for nearly 25 years, you can imagine that I have seen some significant market fluctuations. During those periods, strategic alterations to our action plans were made based on established historical indicators. Well, today, any semblance of those indicators is gone. We stand in unprecedented times.
These are especially challenging times for college seniors conducting job searches and for experienced folks waiting to see what their employment future holds. We are floating in truly uncharted economic waters. Should we panic? No! None of us has a crystal ball to predict the future, but take heart. Two things have not changed: who God is and what our God-given life calling and mission is.
God has not exited the scene. He is on His throne. Nothing comes to Him as a surprise. He works through the minute details of our individual lives to bring about His purposes. True, our normal life rhythms have been upended: our places, people, relationships, jobs, and for some, their job searches. God has many purposes for our present situation.
Professor John Murray reminds us that these truths are very plainly laid out for us in the Scriptures. In his work "Behind a Frowning Providence,“ he provides some wonderful reminders of God’s character and His intentions through the happenings of life. Murray grounds us, first and foremost, in the fact that there is always a purpose of love behind difficult times. He reminds us that God’s plan is perfect, exhaustive, and for our good even in the darkest of times. His plan also is secret, which reminds us that He alone is God. Murray challenges us to think differently about adversity. He admonishes us to see adversity as a way "to know God better … produce fruit in our lives … prepare us for usefulness … lead us to make God our all and prepare us for glory." Murray reassures us by directing us back to God’s redemptive plan through Christ, that the outcome of all of our unknowns will be full of mercy.
God has placed us in this time and place for a purpose. In these tumultuous times, has our primary biblical calling and mission changed? No, it hasn’t. Our charge from the beginning has been to be more like Jesus each day. We have always been chosen to personally impact those around us for Christ, but especially right now, we are to be a beacon of light on the hill pointing people to Christ. Sure, there is an abundance of unknowns, but the commission given to us by Christ has not changed nor has it been withdrawn. Those around us need to see Christ in us. We need to create a culture of positivity based on a visible reliance on the Lord. God alone is sovereign, so we will not have all the answers. But God calls us to trust in His faithfulness, which is the same faithfulness He has shown to the many generations before us.
In Philippians 4:10-13, God calls us to be content regardless of our circumstances. Then the book of James sets the bar even higher for us, stating in James 1:2-4 "consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Our joy should not be conditional or contingent upon our life experiences. Understanding that our calling and mission is firmly grounded in Christ, we are not shaken by our present or future challenges. True peace and happiness come from living our lives for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ.
God’s people will triumph in the midst of adverse circumstances if we focus on the Lord’s unchanging character and on our God-given calling and mission. Praise God that these two things have never and will never change.
Dr. Jim Thrasher is the Senior Fellow of Grove City College’s career services office and the coordinator of the Institute for Faith & Freedom's working group on calling.