Friday, January 20, 2012

Faith On Trial

My heart is trepidant as I (Shannon) write this time... I don't know why I should feel this way... We've faced this sort of thing before... but it never ceases to make my heart beat a little faster and my palms get a little uncomfortably warm (and notably I get warm under the collar too, I must admit, much to my disappointment in myself at that fact) whenever we get first wind of something like this coming up. It's not the sort of thing that you can talk to just anybody about... so many do not understand or do not wish to understand. I mean, that's what causes the whole problem in the first place, an unwillingness to "get it."

We've been feeling so blessed by Tim's job at a factory that shall remain unnamed. Then came a physical trial earlier this week when Tim was moved from first shift to third. It's been really tough for him to switch his wake/sleep cycle in complete reverse order. Not only that, but it's hard to figure out when you're going to eat your meals because it's not natural to want a meal in the middle of the night while at work, then you're too tired to eat when you get home in the morning and probably shouldn't eat and immediately go to bed anyway. Factor in travel time to and from work, and you've got about 6 hours of wake time left before it's time to head to work again. So, you get about one meal a day, two if you're lucky. That's what it's been like for Tim anyway. It's emotionally exhausting, especially when it occurs to him as the sun is coming up as he's driving home just after 7:00 a.m. that he has to be back at work again about an hour after his regular bedtime that night. Suffice it to say that the physical and emotional condition my husband was left in after a week like this (also including the noisy construction going on not 50 feet from our house when Tim was trying to sleep yesterday) was not ideal for the situation he faced this morning.

People at work had been saying the new supervisor for Tim's area was, well, a jerk. Today I'm thankful that Tim has not found that true. He was approached by his supervisor this morning with the news that there was going to be a mandatory Saturday workday. That's not really the concerning part. There have been other "mandatory Saturdays" while he's worked there. They have never been a problem before. Two other supervisors Tim has had were very clear that they were okay with his religious beliefs precluding him from working during the hours of the Sabbath (from sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday evening), especially since Tim was always willing to work Sunday. In fact, that was what they indicated was the policy anyway... as long as you worked one of the weekend days when there was a mandatory Saturday, you were okay. The new aspect of this was that there's a supervisor that is new just a little further up in the hierarchy. Tim's direct supervisor kindly gave my husband a heads-up that this other man was going to try to force Tim into working Saturday (actually starting Friday night with the third shift hours). Wisely, Tim approached the man to explain to him the reason he would not be coming to work Friday night, but would gladly work Saturday night instead. In fact, he had already volunteered for it. The man was not impressed and said Tim's reasons were all well and good, but that he wanted three press-men on third shift tonight (nevermind the fact that there are only two on any given night anyway). The message was clear - he expected Tim to be there, Sabbath or no. Tim's message, though calm and kind, was also clear - he would not be going to work on the Sabbath. You the reader may recognize that this is unlawful. In fact, it is considered by the law to be religious discrimination. I'll spare you the rest of the minute details, but the issue is not resolved yet. It seems for now that Tim has been given a pass for this time (only), but the problem is almost sure to flare again next Friday night, as a mandatory Saturday is expected.

The devil always tries to attack us Christians when we are otherwise weakened, or at least worn down. It so reminds me of Christ in the wilderness. Satan didn't come to him the first day out, when Jesus was still feeling fresh and clear-minded. Nor did he come to Him the whole first week. He came to Him after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, when he was physically worn out. Similarly, Tim was dealing with so much this week already and then the devil piles on one more "big-deal" trial, just one more to break him... At least, that's what Satan was hoping! While it may make us nervous to think about Tim losing his job over this, we're experienced enough to know that God always takes care of us. We may be tempted to fret a bit over losing health insurance just shortly after rejoicing over finally being insured again after a few years of not having that security, but we know that God always takes care of us. Things may not turn out how we would like them to, but that's okay because we know that God is in control and "all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Perhaps there's something in your life that you feel is just the icing on the cake, only it's bitter icing layered on top of all the other trials the devil has already placed in your life of late... Take heart! God is still on the throne and He is still in charge! As He said to Jeremiah (ch. 29, v. 11), "For I know the plans I have for you... plans to prosper you and not to harm you... to give you a hope and a future." Our hurt is not in God's plans. Again, things may not go as we want them to go and we may get our dander up about it, but God sees the big picture, so hang in there and wait until He shows you the bigger picture... and then it will make a whole lot more sense. Trust the Lord! Ask the faithful friends you know to bear you up in prayer that you may withstand the numerous trials you may be facing. Oh, friends - Jesus waits to come to our aid if we only ask! Sometimes we have to hand over our difficulties to Him multiple times. With all this being said, we do ask for you to lift us up in prayer, that our faith would be strengthened and that Tim would be encouraged. We will stand firm on our position that the Sabbath is sacred and not another workday, but we need the kind of faith that enables our hearts not to speed up and our palms not to get sweaty. We need the kind of faith that goes on cheerfully and continues a right representation of Christ and Christianity. We pray that Tim would continue to be employed by this company and that they would see that what they are trying to do is wrong, but most of all we want God's purpose to be accomplished and Him to be glorified. Thank you for praying with us and for us! May God bless you for it and may you also turn to Him in your trials and despairs.

In love,