How to Survive a Desert Season at Work

by | Nov 29, 2017

Life’s trials are tough, but desert seasons are downright scary – especially when they impact our work. Our identity is challenged, our ability to provide for ourselves and our family is threatened, and any security we may have experienced previously goes out the window. You never know how long it will last, or how it will turn out. It’s as if a sandstorm of uncertainty gets stirred up, making it almost impossible to see even just the next step.

Moving to a new state a few years ago was a desert season for me. I left an abundant professional network to go to a place where no one knew me. Five months in, I had made new connections but still hit lots of closed doors. I was running out of options – and time.

If you’re going through a desert season in your work, I’d like to share some encouragement with you so that you can be fruitful during this time.

  1. Desert seasons produce some of the most significant fruit we can have in our lives. God has had to bring me to the end of myself so that I would realize I need to seek Him at all times. As uncomfortable as it can be, my desert seasons have helped me deepen my relationship with Christ, develop greater patience and increase my faith, all of which have led me to a richer life. Use this time to draw closer to God.
    “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3
  2. There are always things to be thankful for. Find them: your health, your skills and experience, good friends, God’s love. Be open to new directions and opportunities. God performs miracles through these seasons – I’ve experienced them. My desert seasons have helped me to develop a heart of gratitude.
    “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  
  3. Desert seasons often lead us to places we would never have dreamed of going.  Those new places are often far better than what we had planned. If I’m fixed on my own plan, I get upset and miss the better things God has in store. God put you here for a purpose and He will not leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Use these seasons to explore where God is leading you.
    “… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
  4. Life’s trials give us the most powerful testimonies we can share to offer encouragement to others. If everything always goes according to our plan, what power does our story have to bring God glory? It’s easy to doubt whether it was God or just your own efforts. When you have a story of great blessings coming out of desert seasons, the faithfulness of God is more tangible and compelling to others.
    “None can compare with you (God); were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” – Psalm 40:5b

God uses our desert seasons to help us grow, to draw us closer to Him, to show His glory and accomplish His purposes. Just when I thought I had run out of options during my transition, one of those closed doors opened. The one requirement I lacked for the position was suddenly no longer an issue. That’s when you know it can only be God at work! My life is not what I would have planned — it’s better than I could have ever imagined. May God give you strength, peace and hope through your desert seasons so you can experience the truly abundant life that Jesus died to give you (John 10:10).

Photo of Catherine Gates

Catherine Gates

Catherine Gates is Executive Director of Women in the Marketplace, a nonprofit marketplace ministry that equips working women to confidently pursue their faith and career for the glory of God. She is also the author of The Confidence Cornerstone: A Woman’s Guide to Fearless Leadership. Learn more at womeninmarketplace.net.