When Pain Turns to Joy

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who dreamt of becoming a zookeeper. She was a diligent student, chose a college based on its zoo connections and chased her dream. She knew people thought she was crazy, but God had given her a passion for conservation and she blindly followed it. The Lord had great favor on this young woman, and within a year of graduating college, she had a job as a keeper at one of the top conservation centers in the country.

2.2 Addra calves 2013

After a few years as a keeper, she developed back problems due to the manual labor associated with her job, and pain became a persistent part of each day. Also, as much as she still was passionate about the conservation of endangered species, she felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. She could fill her head with facts and learn techniques, yet she lacked instinct. As her back pain increased, she reached a point where she knew she needed to change careers. This was terrifying to her – the Lord had so clearly led her to this job and so many different connections had lined up beautifully to bring her to this point. Why would the Lord lead her here if it wasn’t where she was supposed to be?

Hoofstock Keeper Feed Run

As you likely have guessed by now, I was that woman. I was a single woman who had moved from Pennsylvania to Texas for my “dream job” and now I was quitting. I knew that quitting meant I might have to move. I had spent the past four years planting roots in small-town Texas and now God might be plucking me up and putting me who-knows-where. The thought of moving was so terrifying that I usually couldn’t dwell on it.

A passage that was a great encouragement to me during that time was Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV),

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

I firmly believed that God had a plan; I knew nothing surprised Him. He saw this coming and He knew what was still ahead of me. He had always provided for me, and I knew He would continue to do so. Yet the unknown future still frightened me.

My employer graciously allowed me to stay on for several more months, giving me time to look for another job. When I didn’t find one, my supervisor offered me a temporary position doing administrative work for a special project. The new job fit me like a glove, and the company found a way to keep me on permanently! It was an answer to many prayers, and the Lord continued to show His graciousness. For about 8 months, I was still working as a relief keeper one or two days a week. During this time, I was able to wean myself off of the outdoor, adrenaline-filled job as a keeper and adjust to working at a computer in a windowless office. Contrary to all reasoning, I preferred being inside. My former “dream job” was what I had imagined, but the Lord had an even better job in mind for me. It was a clear reminder that God’s plan was better than my plan.

I’ve been working in the office for more than a year now, and the job continues to grow and develop in ways only God could imagine. My four years of studying conservation in college are being put to use, and my four years as a keeper have given me a unique understanding of the animals and the company. God has brought all these experiences together and created a new position for me that “fits my pistol” (to quote my Texan boss).

0.1 Grevy's foal - 2013

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV).

I encourage you cling to this truth and daily remind yourself that God has a plan, regardless of how bleak or painful your current circumstances may appear. Nothing catches God off guard, and we have a Savior who has experienced temptation, rejection, pain and betrayal. He is our great high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15) and He calls us to lay our lives at the foot of His cross.

In the course of one year, I went from feeling inadequate in my job and having great back pain, to being in a job that was tailored for me and built on my unique set of experiences. I can actually be thankful for my back pain because God had used it for good. God faithfully provided for me, and He even threw in an extra bonus – I met the founder of this blog, and she is now a very dear friend of mine and an encouragement in my walk with Christ!



About the Author

View More: http://alyssamartinphoto.pass.us/kristen-culp-portraitsKristen C.

I am a Christ-loving woman who is continually being stretched by the Lord. I live in small-town Texas and love playing soccer, baking cookies, playing games and hugging trees. I split my time between working towards the conservation of endangered species and training up the next generation of children and youth at my church.



  • Storybook Fibers Kristine Hadd

    absolutely sparkling and lovely ! a pleasure to have had the opportunity to read this. And your words and references to Scripture are a help to me. Thank you ! And Praise God. Amen.

    • Kristen C

      Thank you for that encouragement!