Faith at Work
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
–2 Corinthians 12:10
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
I work with smart people, really smart people. And although I am the senior person on our team and have a business degree from a reputable college, I still feel intimidated and like I don’t measure up to the other members of my team. I have less schooling and training in our field than everyone else. On a frequent basis, I feel like I’m the only one on my team that doesn’t fully understand how to do whatever task we might be working on. Thankfully, I know the biblical answer to my problem: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). I know there’s nothing in me that can figure things out on my own. Actually there’s nothing in and of myself that can do anything. As vessels, we are containers of either Christ or Satan who live their lives out through us.
How this plays out in real life at work is admitting that I don’t know things and asking for help. This happens a lot. It turns out that my teammates are really gracious in explaining things to me and teaching me what I need to know. God has graciously given me a team that works together and collaborates to get things done. My responsibility is to recognize when I need help and ask for it.
Although this is my experience in the office, I also spend much of my time working alone in developing countries with very few resources. Most trips, my teammates are not with me and are, in fact, in various time zones around the world. There’s not much time for collaboration and working together out there. I should let you know that I am an Information Technology technician for a Christian organization that has offices all over the world.
I firmly believe the following statement Norman Grubb writes in The Deep Things of God:
“Our trials are God’s trials, given us for a purpose, exactly suited to us. Our lacks are God’s lacks, our perplexities are God’s perplexities. Before the trials, God has already prepared the deliverance and sends us the trials that He may manifest Himself through them. The trial is to stimulate faith, and faith is seeing Him who is invisible. As we do this, in praise and expectation, He gives the answer.”
Most trips feel like trials for much of the time I am there. I very much enjoy the traveling and spending time with the people who live and work in the field, even sleeping in tents and working in crazy dusty outdoor conditions is fun for me. But, each trip has its moments of doubt, uncertainty and simply having no idea of what I’m doing. Thankfully, the God of the universe lives His life out through me. Many times, I just remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, not because it’s me figuring it out, but because Christ is the doer, I am simply the container for Him.
Recently, I went to a remote site in Africa because their internet was not working. The only way to get to this site was by a small plane that landed on a dirt landing strip. Their VSAT, the equipment that provided their internet, had not been working for a week or so. They had been totally out of communication with their main office except for an expensive and not very reliable satellite phone. The staff was really glad to see me. They knew my only reason for coming was to fix the VSAT. I wanted to help them very badly. There were several obstacles going into it. I had never seen the particular type of technology that I was about to try and fix, it was extremely windy and hot that day and I was on a time limit. The plane that brought me had to leave in four hours.
I spent time outside on the satellite phone working with a technician in another town, learned from the team at the location how the internet was supposed to work and went to work with the new knowledge I had just gained. I spent hours setting it up exactly how it should work correctly, but still no internet. It was a hot, dusty, windy frustrating day; and time was ticking for me to leave. I remember stopping at one point and just saying to God, “I have done all I know to do and cannot think of anything else. You know how this will work and what needs to happen. Thank you.”
I want to say that I had full assurance that the VSAT would work, but I was only at the point of being able to say that we did all we knew to do and it will work. I felt deflated when we had to leave, but was also confident that the VSAT would come up and they would have internet, despite how I felt about it. I explained to the guy at the base exactly what to do when the light came on that indicated they had a good signal. I assured him that the signal would come on and the internet would work, despite how I felt about it. I asked him to email me when it came on. After four hours trying to get it to work, we left.
We had one other stop on our way back to the main base and then returned to base several hours later. I still had not heard from the guy I had asked to email me, thus, still no internet. A little while later, I received an email from a lady that was in touch with someone from the VSAT base. She reported that the internet had come back on. I was so happy! I went to tell the pilot who was on base as well and who had helped me setting the VSAT up. He was excited too. I declared it the best day of my trip so far.
Victory! Right? Well, sort of. I have learned that the victory is not necessarily in the internet coming back on, but in continuing to believe who we are in all circumstances. God puts us in all kinds of circumstances and gives us jobs to do, not just for us to do things. His desire is for us to believe and to continue to have faith, regardless of how things seem and feel. I would have had to continue thanking God for my circumstances if the internet never came on. That’s what feels hard about it to me. But I know that God has a reason for everything; I may just not see it plainly. My responsibility is to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
“God permits needs in our lives that He may now supply them in Christ. That is the point. Needs, shortages, problems are summonses to faith. That is why they are God’s will. They are His necessary way of compelling us flesh-bound humans to recognize our earthly limitations, to be dissatisfied with them, to seek the way to transcend them, and to become agents of redemptive faith.” (The Deep Things of God, by Norman Grubb).