Another rejection letter. Another person thanking me for my application, but I just wasn’t the right fit for the job. Another sense of defeat.
Fresh out of college, I began the job search with enthusiasm. The world was an open door, and I was ready to live the adventure where God wanted me. One month passed, then two. Five months and countless job applications later, I had no job and no direction. With every application submitted, I was filled with hope—maybe this will be the one! And every “no” was a new punch in the gut.
It’s not fun to have your pride hurt or to constantly wonder if you’ll ever be “good enough.” But God graciously walked with me through the tears and frustrations. Without a plan or even a spark of hope for the future, I had nothing to do but rely on the Lord. He taught me to listen for His voice in the times I couldn’t feel His presence or see what He was doing. He showed me more about who He is as I spent time in His Word. When I was floundering, I clung to these words of Scripture:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6–7)
This is it. As believers, this is the way we get to live no matter what circumstances come our way. I love the wording of verse 7 in the New Living Translation: “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
Overflowing with thankfulness. Abounding in thanksgiving. Is that how you would describe yourself? That’s not what I would’ve said about me. But the more I learned about God’s character, the more the tide changed in me.
Those rejections ended up being the best thing that could’ve happened to me.
Fast-forward three years. After a few jobs, a few moves, and more schooling, I followed God’s lead to a camp in Michigan. While sitting on the shore of Lake Michigan, as the wind whipped my hair and waves roared in front of me, I remember smiling in disbelief that God had led me to this beautiful place. I was bursting with thankfulness at the thought of what all He had brought me to and through to get to this point. Little did I know, just a month later at that camp I would meet the man that would become my future husband. If it hadn’t been for the original “no,” these greater “yeses” would never have happened.
The words of David in 2 Samuel 22:31 echoed in my heart: “This God—his way is perfect.” God is weaving the pieces of our stories together in His perfect timing. He asks us to trust. To let our roots settle in Him. As a byproduct our faith will be strengthened, and we can’t help but be thankful.
Let’s Talk Thankfulness
It’s easy to make our thanks to God a sort of passing thought. We thank God for the weather, the good grades, or the answer we hoped for, and then we move on about our day. But the more our roots grow into Jesus, the more we know Him, the more we begin to see what He is doing in our life and world. Suddenly a simple “thanks” doesn’t express the gratitude that wells up inside us.
David is often remembered for the way he gave thanks. Many psalms are full of him thanking God or singing praises to Him in the midst of a variety of circumstances. He was quick to recount God’s blessings. He gave thanks to the Lord with his whole heart (Ps. 9:1).
Think of a time you were overwhelmed with thankfulness. Now, what would it look like to live your entire life, minute-by-minute, with that same gratitude? When thankfulness is a way of life, we see Jesus in everything.
His kindness shows up like the sun peeking through the clouds.
His presence becomes as near as the breeze on your skin during your morning run.
His love washes over you as you scrub the dishes and remember where you’d be without His grace.
Our perspective changes as we begin to live in gratitude.
Rejections become possibilities.
Failures turn to opportunities.
Times of waiting turn to praise.
In the moment, we don’t want to be thankful for the rejections, the waiting, or the situations that seem unfair. But that’s where our roots come in. When we “walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him,” we know Jesus deeper. He cares about the details of our lives, and He knows us better than we can imagine.
God didn’t give me any of those jobs I wanted because He is good and had a better plan. I’m grateful for all those letters that told me “no,” and for the tearful nights I spent wondering what God was doing. When I think about all I would have missed out on if I had my way in the beginning, I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness.
Sit in God’s goodness today. Let your roots sink into Him and in His Word. Trust that He’s taking you in the right direction.