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UNEMPLOYED? Check This Out!

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 provide.


What to do if you lost your job

Important Resources:


CareerOneStop

Careers and career information. Job seeking assistance. By the US Department of Labor.


ChristianJobs.com

Help with job search, Christian employment, listings and more.