You just received the news, and it all seems so surreal. “Our company is downsizing,
and we regret to inform you that we had to let you go.” Like everyone else, you dreaded
hearing those words, and your mind is flooded with questions. What will I do? Where
will I go to work? How will I pay my bills?
In times like this we are often tempted to question ourselves, our abilities, and
even our worth. Now more than ever, however, we should remember to praise God and
pray with David, “You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I
will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your
works, and my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14, NASB) This statement reminds
us that we are not our own creations, but we are all God’s handiwork. Elsewhere we
are reminded that we are like clay and the Lord is the master potter. He does not
make broken vessels.
As Christians, we know very well that God is the Creator of all things, that He is
Almighty and is ever present. But why is it that we often forget this when it comes
to our employment and career? God made us for a reason and with a purpose. He endowed
each one of us with talents that He wants us to use for His glory. He is not only
the Lord of our life, but is also the Lord of our careers, of our employment. Our
response to this important truth is well stated in Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge
you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,
acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” This includes our
jobs as well. What if we surrendered our jobs and careers as a living and holy sacrifice
to the Lord by doing all things as to Him? For starters, we would realize that our
performance at work does not depend on the way we are paid or treated by our employer,
but on our service to the Lord. Even more importantly, we would realize that God
is in charge of our careers as well. Perhaps, it would move us to realize that instead
of beating ourselves down and feeling like failures, or being angry at our employers
for letting us go, we should rather understand that God has good plans for us.
I faced this many years ago. All seemed to go well (or so I thought), when in a very
short period of time my children became very sick, my father had to undergo two major
surgeries, and two family members died. On top of all that, my wife was exhausted
and I had to bring her the news that I lost my job, our only vehicle and our home.
It was as if someone had pulled the floor away from under our feet and we were falling,
and falling. It took time to recover, but in time we were able to see that all along
God had a good plan for us. He has a good plan for you, too. Granted, at that time
neither I nor my wife could see what the outcome would be. We were often blinded
by pain and sorrow, but that is the nature of faith, isn’t it? When after a lifetime
of being called first “exalted father” and then “father of a multitude” Abraham was
asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac. It was not an easy task. It was painful, difficult,
and Abraham did not have the privilege of knowing what would happen. Yet, just as
in our life, God had a plan. He always does.
God has a plan for all of us, you included. You may not understand why you just lost
your job, or what you will do next, but you can always trust that God is with you
and He has a plan for your life. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Re-evaluate your life priorities. When I lost my job, I had a few lessons to learn.
They were vital lessons, and today I thank God for causing me to learn them, even
though it was a painful experience. My priorities were wrong. Like many others, I
used to identify myself in what I was doing, in my job. So much so, in fact, that
I was beginning to lose sight of the fact that my identity does not depend on what
I do, but who I am in Christ. You are a child of God! You are a disciple of Jesus
Christ! That will never change, no matter what the circumstances may be. The Lord
is with His children in the bad times as He is in the good times. Is your true identity
reflected by your life priorities? What is most important to you, who you are in
Christ, or what you do for a job?
Your job is not your purpose in life. All too often jobs are regarded as an individual’s
purpose in life. It is true that a job may actually contribute to fulfilling a person’s
purpose, but even so, it does not define it. Our purpose in life is to enter into
an eternal relationship with God, and to glorify Him. This includes many things,
and our job may certainly be part of it. However, if we lose a job, it does not mean
that we also lose meaning in life. It may just be that we need to enter another phase
that will also contribute to the fulfillment of God’s glorious plans for us. In my
experience, as well as in the experience of many others I have seen, often our losses
are stepping stones that enable us to move forward into a new phase in life, a phase
that God had planned for our ultimate good. Your loss of a job could very well be
one of those stepping stones, perhaps giving you the opportunity to implement changes
that you would never have considered otherwise.
Make the best use of your time. Once we lose a job, it is all too easy to allow
ourselves to slump into a time wasting mode, in which we never seem to have the time
to do what we should. This may very well be a form of avoidance, a way we devise
to avoid the rejection and the disillusionment of potential employers telling us
that they don’t need us. Rejection, coupled with a wrong sense of identity, can be
very powerful and disruptive in our lives. Scripture reminds us that our life and
time itself belong to God. We are instructed to be diligent, to avoid our tendency
to be lazy, and to redeem the time that God has made available to us. Jesus stated
it perfectly when He instructed us to let each day carry its own stresses and pressures.
In other words, take a day at a time. This means that we don’t need to worry about
tomorrow, of course, but also that we need to use that day diligently. If we set
short term goals on a daily basis, we will be less likely to waste time and procrastinate
what we should take care of today.
You actually have a job! Scripture tells us that whatever we do, we should do it
for Christ. In Ephesians 6:5-6, in modern terms, we are told that we are to serve
our employers as we would serve Christ. In other words, we could say that our great
Employer is Christ Himself. He is the One we serve, and He tells us to work well
for our earthly employers and to do it for Him. Even through you are unemployed Jesus
has not stopped being your Master, or your great Employer. With or without a job,
we remain servants of our Lord Jesus. At a time like this, our job for the Lord is
dual. On the one hand we are to spend our working hours (at least eight hours a day)
looking for a new employment. As we do this for the Lord, we need not worry about
rejection or perceived failures, for the Lord tells us to seek employment, not to
change the heart of potential employers and force them to accept us. “Ask, and it
will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you
“ (Matthew 7:7.) Although the context is obviously different from unemployment,
this passage does remind us that we are to seek, to knock and to ask. God will do
the providing in His perfect time.
I remember an individual who had been unemployed for some time. Every day he would
leave the house with a prayer: “Lord, please bless my work today, and provide the
opportunities you have in mind for me.” As he sought job after job, he collected
hundreds of rejections, but did not allow himself to be discouraged, for he understood
that his job was to seek, and that at the right time God would allow him to find
as well. Today, after a few months of searching, he has found a very good employment,
and continues to praise the Lord.
Unemployment does not need to be a time of despair. In the Lord, you can turn this
into a time of discovery, and a stepping stone toward fulfilling your God-given purpose
in life. Let the Lord guide you as you continue to serve Him faithfully, and He will