By: Beth Doohan
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His, and He changes the times and the seasons…” Daniel 2:20
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
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Several years ago, my husband Corey was self-employed with an auto detailing business when he began to explore a career change that would require us to move to Minnesota. It seemed like a great opportunity, but the only problem is that my husband and I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time. We were married the summer after our college graduation, and Tulsa had become home for us as a married couple.
The prospect of uprooting from our home, family, friends and church that we love produced feelings of incredible uncertainty in my heart. Corey built his successful business from the ground-up, and I worked as a paralegal at a local law firm. But I was pregnant, and I knew Corey was interested in this new career opportunity as a great source of income for when I became a stay-at-home mom. In addition, we both had grown up in the Midwest closer to family and had always hoped our children would as well. On the other hand, I was torn at the thought of leaving the people in Tulsa whom we loved so dearly. In the face of uncertainty, how could we make a decision that would dramatically alter the course of our lives?
We all at times must navigate change and uncertainty. Life can give major curve balls and when it does, we must decide how to respond. We see in the Bible many examples of men and women with great faith despite their changing circumstances. They provide a biblical model of how we can have hope and strength in God even in the most challenging of situations. Let’s take a look at several of them together:
The Life of Joseph
Let’s begin in Genesis 39:2-5. This is right after Joseph was taken from his home and family to Egypt. He had lost his freedom, his friends, his former way of life, but he had not lost his faith. Verse 2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.” Now if the Lord was with Joseph, that means Joseph had put his trust in God. In a time of grief and despair at all he had lost, Joseph looked to God, and God was with him. Not only that, the Lord blessed Joseph and helped him be successful.
Later in Joseph’s life, he again faced uncertainty when he was falsely accused of adultery with his master’s wife and imprisoned. Imagine how frustrating that must have been—to have experienced life-changing loss, to still trust in God, to watch Him bless and promote your work, only to have everything you’ve built in this new life taken away from you again. But even in the midst of this sorrow and injustice, Genesis 39:21 says, “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.” No matter what came his way, Joseph continued to trust in God, to honor Him in all things, and God was with him.
The Heart of David
Something that is striking to me as I read about Joseph and other biblical heroes is their seeming resilience to challenges and hardship. Yet, we also see many stark contrasts of people in the Bible who fall apart when they face obstacles or things don’t go as planned. One or my favorite verses that is repeated throughout Psalm 42 and 43 is by David the Psalmist saying, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God.”
Obviously, David knew how grief and sorrow affect the heart. God wants us to pour out our hearts to Him! But David also knew God’s faithfulness and made a conscious choice to take his burdens and give them to God – to put his hope in the Lord. Psalm 37:25 says, “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” Verses 23 and 24 just prior say, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Even in times of strain or uncertainty, our Lord is holding you by the hand and delights in “every detail” of your life! Like the example of David, pour out your heart to Him – He is faithful and so worthy of your trust!
The Wisdom of Daniel
Another one of my favorite biblical heroes is Daniel. Most people know how Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and about Daniel in the lion’s den. But if you read through the entire book, you will see a running theme that Daniel was used by God because of his incredible faith and trust in Him.
Daniel 2:17-23 recounts his response when the king was going to have all the wise men killed. It says, “Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them His mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, ‘Praise the name of God forever and ever, for He has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; He removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though He is surrounded by light. I thank and praise You, God of my ancestors, for You have given me wisdom and strength. You have told me what we asked of You and revealed to us what the king demanded.’”
I have a post-it note affixed in the book of Daniel that I wrote as a young teenager. It says, “Daniel was blessed with calm, sincere, earnest trust in God. I can have the same with eyes fixed on Jesus.” You see, Daniel made me want something more in my relationship with God. He and other biblical heroes were able to withstand hardship and not fall apart. They were strong because they saw that God was greater than any challenge they faced and because of that, they fixed their eyes on Him and let Him guide their lives. God faithfully gave Daniel the divine wisdom that he needed. Despite uncertain circumstances, Daniel knew God was with him and would never abandon him.
Hebrews 12:2 describes Jesus as “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” The more we know God and His character, the stronger our faith becomes as we experience Him. Just as Daniel looked to God for wisdom, so we are able to look to Jesus even when we do not know what the future holds and, in those times, find strength to endure, peace to trust Him, and assurance that He is bringing His plans to pass. Keep your eyes fixed on Him!
God at Work in Seasons of Change
In my own life, I have known this to be true time and again. As my husband and I prayed about the decision to move to Minnesota, God began speaking to our hearts in gentle, tender ways to show us what to do. He had already lined up work for Corey, whose work would be our primary source of income, and I could explore paralegal positions to continue my work part-time from home. Also, within a few months of our facing this decision, we had several close friends from high school or college move to Minnesota, giving us a network of friends that we hadn’t yet had there. We were able to save enough money for a down-payment on a house and were drawn to Midwest living closer to family.
Ultimately, we knew that God was calling us to move there. Not for our own self-fulfillment or financial gain, but because God truly had a plan for our lives that needed us to be in Minnesota. We decided to embrace the season of change and put feelings of uncertainty in God’s hands. That choice to trust God and follow His calling produced the same sense of deep confidence and peace in Him that Joseph, David, Daniel, and countless other followers of God have experienced in their challenging circumstances as the Lord lovingly and faithfully worked His plans in and through them.
What type of uncertainty are you facing? Can I encourage you to take any concerns and uncertainties you may be having to the Lord? He has created you, He knows you, and He intimately cares for you. The Lord has a plan, and He will show you what steps to take as you fix your eyes on Him. Do not fear change, because God is always at work in and around us (Philippians 2:13) and will show Himself faithful, even in times of uncertainty. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” (Psalm 37:23-24).
Time to Reflect
1. Take some time to reflect honestly with the Lord about today’s devotion topic. What is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart?
2. Revisit today’s Scripture passages. What do these verses teach us? How do they change things? (i.e. The way that we live? What we live for? Our experience of God?)
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(This devotion contains excerpts from The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan and Jenni Walker.)