Joe Purnell

Oxford, UK

Finding peace and purpose in the midst of it all

Everyone enjoys the feeling of accomplishment, and it was chasing the buzz that comes from achieving a goal that left me with a sense of unrest. I felt lost when I was out of work, and university studies seemed so futile without any drive or clear target. It was as if I was on a boat in a calm sea but couldn’t bring myself to appreciate the peace. Having grown up in a Christian family I knew of the peace that the Bible promises but couldn’t bring myself to accept it for myself.

Over the course of a year I piled pressure on myself to find a target – something to work towards and ultimately achieve. Whether that be earning cash or narrowing down a career choice, I tried to stay in a constant state of ‘busy-ness.’ This meant trying out three jobs in the space of three weeks – each coming with their own struggles physically and mentally. It began to feel as though I was still at sea but that a storm had struck up and any sense of peace had been thrown overboard. On top of the physical and mental lethargy that this work came with, I still lacked that sense of accomplishment that I desperately desired.

It was as I got up for my ninth 5am shift in a row, in my fourth job in as many months, that I remembered the promises I had heard in Church throughout my life: Jesus can calm a storm. I decided to take a step back and look at what I had been doing recently, seeing that it was the pressure I put on myself that left me feeling so lost. As I started to rely on Him for my rest as well as my purpose I found a new sense of energy and drive.

I began to realise that I had been kept safe on the boat throughout the storm and now that the sea has returned to its calm and peaceful state, I am able to trust that I am still moving towards a goal. Although work oftentimes comes with its stresses, I now know that God will continue to provide me with rest as well as purpose when I need it. 

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