I remember my first job interview… It was for the role of Assistant Producer at the London studios of Channel 4. I went in prepared, overflowing with confidence and gave them a five-minute presentation with ten reasons why I deserved the job. After I had wowed them with facts, figures and diagrams, the head of the panel spoke. “That’s all well and good”, he said. “But there’s no experience on your CV”.

 I started to launch into another spiel about the unique qualities that make me the best candidate, when another panellist raised her hand and interrupted me. “Kojo, this job is about solving problems, and you have never even HAD a problem”. That shut me up.

 Now, I had walked into this interview, with my head in the clouds, filled with unassailable confidence that I deserved the job, and would, therefore, get it. I believed I deserved it, so I was simply showing up to ask for it. To be told that I hadn’t the requisite experience stopped me in my tracks somewhat. But over time, I have come to realise that the job market is pretty much a perfect reflection of life. Before status comes to experience.

 In church last Sunday, the preacher reminded me of the story of Moses. After accidentally killing an Egyptian who was flogging a Hebrew, Moses became an outcast among his own Hebrew people, so he went off into the wilderness, where he dwelled for many years. By the time he saw the burning bush and returned to Egypt to fulfil his destiny and free his people from Pharaoh, Moses was Eighty years old and had acquired decades of valuable desert survival experience. No wonder he was able to lead his people through the wilderness to the promised land.

 My friends, many of us are in the wilderness right now. Our lives are one massive never-ending problem. We are struggling, despite our best efforts, and everyone tells us that our breakthrough is around the corner, but let’s be honest: we need that breakthrough right now, this week, this month, by the end of this year. Because we have suffered because we deserve it.

 We look to God for a miracle to take us out of our life of hardship and bring us to a place of prosperity. Every morning, we wake up and start our days with a prayer. Then we open our eyes, and our debts are still there, our bills, our nagging wife, our lazy husband, our hungry children, our faulty car, our stressful job, our abusive boss, our vindictive colleagues… we pray and pray, but the life we seek to escape from is right there waiting when we open our eyes.

 So we start to wonder whether God will ever answer our prayers, but what we don’t realise is that the stress of our present situation is actually the first part of the answer to our prayers. Before you are recruited for success, you need a strong CV of problem-solving experience, and you can’t have that without ever having problems. We want our lives to change because we deserve it, but our lives will change when we’re prepared for it.

 The beauty of it is that there’s no set formula to how soon your CV will be complete. Moses came into his destiny after he turned eighty, but David came into his when he turned fifteen. When he declared he would fight Goliath, King Saul took one look at him and shook his head, “You’re just a boy. This guy is going to eat you for breakfast”, but David was not afraid, “Your Majesty, with all due respect, you don’t know what I’ve been through. I’ve been tending to my father’s sheep alone in the wilderness for years. I’ve fought lions and bears and killed them with a single stone. I’m ready for this guy”

Sometimes, I think of some of the hardships our nation has gone through – from the independence struggle to the various coups and curfews, to the famine of 1993, to the more recent Dumsor – and I cannot help but wonder whether all these have not come our way to teach us resilience. The question however is… did we learn? I guess we’re all about to find out.  

My friends, the problems you are facing today are part of the answer to your prayers. If God will not expose you to a temptation that you’re not equipped to face, then He certainly won’t expose you to a blessing that you’re not qualified to receive. Before status comes experience. Before success comes problems. Before the reward comes toil. Before the promised land comes the wilderness.

 My name is Kojo Yankson, and I’m thankful for my problems, for they herald my blessings.