You may or may not know that after I finished university, I moved to England and lived there for over twelve years. I loved living in England. Everything functioned correctly.
People obeyed the law. You could depend on the common sense of your fellow drivers on the road. People didn't respect you based on your age or your gender or your job title or the way you looked. They judged you solely on your contribution to society. The harder you worked, the more you were respected. The system worked, and I loved that.
I missed Ghana every day, but, in spite of my parents' constant attempts to convince me to come home, I could have happily lived in England for many more years. Today, I'm going to tell you one of the reasons why in January last year, I suddenly changed my mind and came home.
I worked as an Estate Developer. It was a good job that paid well, but there wasn't much opportunity for growth, and I wanted to do more. Then one day, I saw a new job vacancy. It came with lots more responsibility, a bigger team, a nicer car, fewer working hours and a much fatter salary. My parents really wanted me to move back to Ghana and explore some of the opportunities available here in my field, but I had my eyes on this job.
From the day I saw the vacancy, I started praying, asking God to give me the job. I had no doubt that I deserved it. I had quietly suffered all sorts of setbacks in my life, made all sorts of sacrifices, worked with all sorts of difficult people, and tolerated all sorts of injustices in my personal and professional life. I was long overdue some good news, and I knew God would not let me down with this job. I did my research, prepared myself, turned up in my best suit and was at my confident and charming best in the interviews, but I didn't get the job.
I was devastated. I questioned my abilities, and my very purpose in life. I questioned God. How could He do this to me? Did I not pray? Did I not sacrifice? Did I not work hard? Did I not prepare? Did I not deserve it?
It was a big blow, and it made me lose faith in myself and – I confess – in God. I decided I'd had enough, and I was tired of trying so hard to please a God who wouldn't grant my simplest wish in answer to my simplest prayer. For this and other reasons, I decided I needed a new direction, so I took my parents' advice and came home to investigate these opportunities they had been going on about.
Why am I telling you this? Well losing that job taught me the most important lesson about faith. But before I tell you what that lesson is, let me tell you another quick story:
A ship sank and only one man survived. He swam to a nearby island. There was plenty of food and water, so he built himself a hut, made himself comfortable and started praying to be rescued. Every day, he would pray for a ship or an aircraft to come by and find him, but months passed and nothing happened.
One day, on his way back from fishing, he noticed that his hut was on fire. The man was heartbroken. Everything he owned was going up in smoke in the hut he had spent the last six months building. He cried out in anguish, "Why, God? Why? Have you not punished me enough?"
The following, morning, a ship turned up and rescued the man. He asked the captain, "how did you find me?"
The captain smiled and said, "We saw the flames from your burning hut".
It hurts when God says no, doesn't it? You lie on the floor and weep, begging God for a child, a husband, a job, a promotion, a visa, a loan, a qualification, a cure, a victory, a blessing, and you put every effort into it only to be told "No". It's hard to swallow. I mean if God's children don't deserve their prayers answered, then who does?
My friends, when I found myself reluctantly heading to Ghana last January, I felt God had let me down. I deserved that job, and I considered it an injustice that He had denied me such a great opportunity after all my hard work. Of course, I had no idea at the time that he had much greater things planned for me. Today, I'm doing my dream job, making a difference in many people's lives, contributing positively to my nation, and loving every minute of it. The lesson I learnt when I lost that job was that when God says no to your prayer, it's only because your request isn't big enough. So from now on, when you don't get what you prayed for, get excited.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and sometimes, you just have to lose out on what you want, so God can give you what you need.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!