This week’s blog is an excerpt from How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed and Those Who Love Them , By author Dale Kreienkamp.
THE 23RD PSALM IS a beautiful psalm. I memorized it as a child. As sometimes happens, they were words that didn’t have much meaning to me. I could answer questions about what they meant (I listened to the teacher) but when I really faced adversity, the words began to really mean something.
Unemployment for me was real adversity. When I lost my job, I lost a part of me. Even though I didn’t get fired, I lost some of my self-confidence. I felt like I had “lost my soul”; I lost being me. I had seen it before in others. You can see it in their eyes when they’re between jobs; they too, had lost something. Now it had happened to me. When people ask how we’re doing, we probably give the standard answers, things like “I’m fine,” “I know I’ll find something soon,” etc. After all, we can’t say what we probably feel: “I’m doing terrible,” “I don’t think I can be successful ever again,” etc. People would run away.
Let’s look at the first two verses of Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters (Psalm 23:1-2 KJV).
Examine them closely and remember that God has given us everything we need; we lack nothing. He leads us to rest. There is a purpose behind the period of rest we find ourselves in—to calm us and to remove the work-related stresses we were dealing with in preparation for what’s next. For me, these are the best words of the entire Psalm: he restores my soul. Four little words, but to me they now mean everything.
He returned my soul back to me, my self-confidence, my “me.” It happened for me in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania. I went to a place I’d never been to before to serve on an interim basis as vice president of human resources for the Pocono Health System. My role was to help stabilize the function while they conducted a search. In my head I was saying, “What on earth are you doing?” But God knew. My confidence came back. I was facing issues and situations that needed the gifts God had given me. With each new success a little confidence returned, that belief that “I can do this.” God also surrounded me with some of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with; I was part of a leadership team that truly functioned as a team. Even though I was far from home and the family I loved, I felt God’s arms wrapped around me.
When I returned home six and a half months later, my soul had been restored. I left there truly feeling like a blessed man. I thought of these words from the psalm:
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life …
It will happen for you, too. I don’t know what it will be for your soul, but you’ll know when it happens. When it does, remember the 23rd Psalm.