For the last few weeks, for various reasons, I’ve been applying for jobs. I’ve applied for a lot of jobs, maybe thirty, and I haven’t gotten a single one of them. Now there’s a few reasons why I think that is, but the reasons why I didn’t get any of these particular jobs isn’t what I want to discuss here and now. Not getting any of these jobs reminds me of a particular job I applied for I didn’t get back in November last year. Not getting that job confused and frustrated me way more than missing out on the most recent thirty or so.
Last November, I resigned from a job as a mental health support worker for reasons of conscience. Certain things were happening to clients, and after a short period of trying to change those things, it became clear I was part of an employment intake required to replace the last lot of troublemakers who thought they could shake up the system. I quit, mainly because I could not in good conscience take money for supporting the conditions under which the clients were living. My high moral ground, however, came at a cost.
That particular job paid good.
I quickly found a position being advertised with another organisation however which actually seemed quite perfect.
Cancer supportive care. Part-time. Close to my home. Reputable non-government agency. I called the organisation and spoke to the person who was hiring. I described my experience to them and asked a few questions about the position. She agreed I seemed very suited and well-qualified for the role, and she encouraged me to submit an application. So I did.
I didn’t even get to interview.
Later, I found out that the role was advertised merely as a formality. Someone was moved into the role from another situation with the same organisation, and there was little if any chance anyone else was ever going to be considered for it.
I was devastated. It had seemed so perfect for me. I really, really wanted that job. I hoped with all my heart I’d get it.
But it was a false hope. What seemed like an amazing opportunity was really just a facade, a series of motions someone else needed to go through in order to keep up appearances on someone else’s behalf.
I’ve often wondered why people and organisations feel they need to do this – offering choice where there really is no choice, giving the impression of opportunity not because an opportunity exists, but because it behooves them to appear like the kind of place or people who provide opportunities. Peddling false hope, implying choice and power and autonomy where there is none, giving the impression of fairness and equity when in fact the outcomes are already decided.
One thing I do know – it feels crappy to be on the receiving end and realise you never really had a chance.
Over the years in certain circumstances people have said to me “God is in control” and I wonder what it is they really mean by this. Did God know I was going to get cancer? It also begs the deeper question – did He have something to do with it? Was it always going to happen, and was my assumption I would be around to raise my four children to adulthood a kind of false hope? Was my life, my marriage, my family, my career, my relationships up to then just a folly, a playground God had let me fool around in knowing the whole time my life would end at age 35?
My life didn’t end. I survived cancer. But I spent a lot of time when I was sick thinking about why, if God was good and God was in control, He would let me get married and have four children if the whole time I was just going to die of cancer and leave them without a wife a mother.
It got me thinking – does God really know all the outcomes already, and so our free will is merely a patronage on His part? Is God like a parent who asks what we want for lunch when the sandwiches are already made? Does God place tantalising opportunities right where we’ll see them, knowing the whole time someone other than us will get to have all the fun? Does God have certain events set in stone in our lives and no matter what we do, we can’t change them?
Flying in the face of all this predeterminism and fatalism is the wonderful concept of hope.
Hope is the expectation that things can get better than they are right now. It’s the mindset that says yes, things might get worse, or they could improve, and I choose to think about the latter. Hope is tipping the scales in the favour of yes, okay, we will, I can and let’s go. Hope is sometimes the only power we have in a situation to facilitate positive change, and sometimes, is all we have to hold on to. Hope is what happens when we are at the end of our rope, so we unravel the very end of it, and take out a piece between our fingers, and yank it out and make it stretch just a little closer to the finish line…..
Imagine a God who watches you go through that, knowing all the time He has the power to make it happen. Yet chooses not to.
A God who provides false hope is not a good God.
Given a choice between believing God is good, and God is in control, I have chosen to believe God is good. While believing in a predetermined path may provide us with some level of comfort, it also tends to make us abdicate responsibility for pride, unkindness, for a lack of mercy, and for an absence of compassion. Why help someone else who is predestined to fail?
All the opportunities God has set before you are real, and are always possible. He did not place that advertisement and always mean to hire someone else. The end is not predetermined, and all your successes and failures are not written in stone. You always have the power to change, to grow, to heal, to move, to hope and to love. God knows this about you. He knows you’re not always in control, but He trusts your heart. Do you believe the same about Him?
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