Written by Leah Koh, Singapore
Late last year, I left my teaching job of 15 years—a job that gave me security, despite the constant struggle of balancing work and family.
I had been feeling drained and discouraged for the past two years while teaching two underperforming classes. Although I often prayed to God for strength to get through the challenging days, and saw the joy of building relationships with my students and helping them learn and grow each day, working with a critical boss who was lacking in empathy really dragged my spirits down. It also didn’t help that the work culture was stifling and toxic. I became so fearful of making mistakes at work. At times I couldn’t even breathe or sleep well at night.
When the lockdown happened, I was relieved to be working from home, away from the toxic environment at my workplace. However, as the day came for school to be reopened, I began to dread going back. I didn’t know if I could still cope with the ever-changing demands of work.
One day, while alone in my bathroom, I asked God if I should leave my job. I felt a weight in my heart and I really wanted to leave, but I didn’t want to quit because of my fears and discouragement.
In a way, God answered my prayer. From July to September, I went through a lot of emotional turmoil from being screamed at by my boss for a trivial matter that eventually escalated to higher management. This was it, I told myself; this was a sign. It’s time to quit. So, with the encouragement and advice of a friend from my former church, who happens to be an HR director, I summoned the courage to break the news to my bosses in October.
Facing An Unknown Future
Yet, quitting was not as liberating as I had expected. The worries began to set in—I had no backup plans, and I didn’t know how long my finances would last. I just couldn’t see a future ahead of me.
But God encouraged me with His words in Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” I clung onto this verse and prayed hard that God will show me a way, just as He promised Israel then, that He would “[make] a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
After quitting, I kept busy by doing a lot of online research and reading voraciously, hoping to pursue a career in learning and development in a corporate setting. My passion has always been in designing and learning, so I thought I could pursue instructional design.
But a career transition, especially at this time, was difficult. I was overwhelmed with learning to write cover letters and fixing my resume, creating a solid LinkedIn profile, studying how to ace interviews, researching on courses to pursue, etc. I went to bed most nights feeling worried about my future.
God’s Comforting Assurance
One night I had a dream. I was driving and got lost. I felt so scared, so I called out to God, pleading with Him to take over the wheel. To my surprise, God appeared! But He didn’t take over the wheel. He simply sat beside me and started chatting with me. Yet, somehow, my fears disappeared, and I managed to keep driving. Even though we were still lost, I wasn’t scared anymore, because God was beside me. I was not alone. He was with me, and I knew that I will eventually find my way back on track.
Even though it was a dream, I felt moved as I recounted this story to my husband and son. Through the dream, I was assured that God would never leave or forsake me.
I began to read more Christian books and listen to sermons to remind myself of who I am in Christ—that I am His beloved daughter. And God showed up in different ways. He placed friends around me to encourage me. He enabled me to persevere in my job search, even though I had received no response after sending out so many resumes. I knew that God was at work even when I wasn’t seeing anything happening yet.
Experiencing God’s Provision
Before I quit last November, I had signed up for the Design Education Summit, which took place just this February. During this summit, I found an organisation for which I was interested to volunteer as a facilitator and reached out to them. Eventually, the director got back to me and asked instead if I was interested in a managerial role, where I would get to design programmes for children. I was keen and so I applied.
I was then called for two interviews, both of which went really well. However, the evening after my second interview, I received a call from the director to say that she couldn’t get a grant from the government as deadline for the application was in February and I had to start work by then. Without the grant, she would not be able to match my salary expectations. But there was no way I could start in February as I would be serving my last month notice in school then.
I was devastated. I had thought that this was the open door, that God had brought me this far. My church friend encouraged and prayed with me for the deadline of the grant to be extended. There was really nothing I could do but pray and wait. Through the sermons I watched online, God assured me to continue abiding in Him, place my confidence in Him as I wait for the job to come, and to honour Him in whatever I do.
About a week later, the director scheduled another Zoom meeting with me. The job package she was offering me was not up to my expectation, as it would involve a huge pay cut. I was torn between accepting the low offer and negotiating for a better deal.
I was scheduled to meet the director the next day for the final discussion. That day, even as thoughts battled in my head, I was reminded of a story about the Israelites when they were in the desert—how God had shifted the direction of the wind and caused a huge flock of quail to enter the camp (Exodus 16:12-13; Psalm 105:40). It made me think that if God can provide in abundance for His people in the midst of a desert, He can also do the same for me.
I was also encouraged by a sister-in-Christ to choose the path that requires faith. Then, two hours before the meeting, I read the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:24-50). Even though David was a small shepherd boy armed with just a sling and a stone, he knew to place his faith in God.Through these moments, God reminded me how faithful He is, and how He has been with me every step of the journey.
So, I went into the meeting boldly, even though I did not know how I was going to negotiate. I only knew that I needed to put my faith in God and trust that He would provide for me.
The director ended up offering her best package which matched my expectations. I didn’t even have to ask! She told me that the government had extended the grant period for six months, which made it possible for them to hire me. I accepted the offer with peace in my heart, trusting that God had brought me to this point.
God has taught me so much through this journey. He has shown me that He is real, and that He loves me so dearly. He has extended me grace upon grace in my weaknesses.
I hope that my story will be an encouragement to someone out there who may be facing a similar situation. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
Your story may take a different turn from mine—but here’s an assurance we can hold on to: When we lean on God and abide in Him, we can trust that He is faithful and will provide. After all, He is our Father, and we are His precious children.