Monte’s phone seldom rings anymore. Seven months of unemployment have wrung all the words out of his well-meaning friends, and they no longer know what to say to encourage him. Dozens of resumes and a handful of interviews have produced only rejection, and Monte’s once-certain confidence is now disappearing. He feels alone, uncertain, and scared this time might never end.
Unemployment is seldom easy. In fact, for a working follower of Jesus Christ, it can present not only fiscal crisis, but spiritual crisis as well. “Where is God in this job search,” we wonder, “and why is this happening to me”? The longer the unemployment lasts, or the more rejections we receive, or the tighter the finances get, the more difficult the struggle becomes at all levels.
How should we respond in these moments?
Most of us know the advice for trying to find work. Good resumes, effective networking, continuous, confident pursuit. Bookstores, friends in business, human resource professionals and even job-search firms are often able to help us with the practical aspects of the job search. Where do we turn, though, to face the emotional and spiritual trials of unemployment?
First, we must recognize the dangers this time presents. It attacks our confidence and self-esteem; it may isolate us and it presents the temptation for us to isolate ourselves further. It may be embarrassing, and it can trigger our worst behaviors, causing us to lash out at those around us. It can also present practical challenges, such as not having enough money to pay the bills, or even to buy groceries. It may cause us to doubt God’s involvement or interest in our daily lives; in some instances, even cause us to doubt His very existence.
Here are nine steps to consider when facing job loss in your own life:
- First and foremost, pray.
- For some, prayer is a natural response.
- For others, praying is difficult during rough times.
- Tell someone you trust and ask them to pray for you…the comfort of knowing someone is praying for you may be just the encouragement you need to be able to break your own prayer logjam. It certainly eases your isolation.
- Don’t pray perfect prayers, be honest with God (David in Psalms) (I Samuel 1:1–Hannah).
- Don’t see prayer as you needing to tell God what’s happening – He already knows – God does not play head games with us…prayer is your acknowledgement of His presence, and is one of the most, I argue the most, tangible aspect of relationship with Him.
- Break your isolation in two ways:
- Ask a group of close friends to pray for you and stay close to you, and make them separate from those trying to help you end your sabbatical. Eventually, as the forced sabbatical gets longer, people trying to help you end it begin to feel useless, and you can begin to resent them as you see them fading away. Your prayer partners need to be shed of the duty of helping you find work so they can stay close to you even as the time gets long.
- Cultivate a second group to help you end the sabbatical.
- Don’t ask others why this is happening to you, and don’t listen to others who want to tell you why it’s happening until you’ve first spoken to God (remember Job’s friends).
- Recognize that many people will be uncomfortable around you, like a funeral home visit, and their shunning you is more about the discomfort than a desire not to be around you.
- Look for work only three days a week, and do so intensively those three days.
- You need breathing room and adrenalin for the times when you have to give the extra effort, or for the hard times when they come.
- Looking for work is more exhausting than working.
- Spend a fourth day in a new spiritual activity, either giving of yourself or soaking up new knowledge.
- Spend a fifth day surprising your family or friends with focused attention on them.
- Journal, journal, journal!
- “Never forget in the darkness what you knew to be true in the light.” Don’t be frightened into desperate or questionable actions by sacrificing what you know about God and your relationship with Him during times of great trial. Remember Abraham and Sarah’s debacle when they decided to “help God” keep His promise of an offspring.
“Do not lie in wait, o wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; do not destroy his resting place; For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in calamity.” – Proverbs 24:15-16
Written by Randy Kilgore, Senior Writer and Workplace Chaplain for Desired Haven Ministries. Used by permission. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > Used for non-profit teaching purposes only.