A dark and threatening storm brewed just like the one we had weathered and persevered through in the past, but we had to admit this time it appeared more daunting.
With a shaky economy and on our way to senior citizenship yet not in a position to retire, the outlook wasn’t promising when my husband lost his job a few years ago – again.
As a sales rep with nationwide companies, he was accustomed to the changes that career often brings. When sales are good, they’re really good, but when the economy takes a turn for the worse, your job becomes frustrating and job loss threatens.
Previously, my husband had persevered through several company downsizings yet always managed to retain a job. Even when the corporation he worked for sold to a competitor and his sales position eliminated, he still managed to snag a new job with a former customer. Sixteen years ago we decided to sell our Pacific Northwest home and relocate across the country to care for aging parents, yet again my husband fortunately found a new sales job back in our home state.
Thanking God for provisions to enable us to acquire our home, raise three children, and send them off to college, my husband didn’t expect to find himself jobless again, but as our last offspring neared his final year of college, unemployment loomed once more.
It’s difficult for anyone to lose a job, but it’s even more so for a husband and father, the provider for the family. Like it or not, our work does define us because it provides a sense of well-being. And when the rug of identity and security is pulled out from under someone losing a job, it more than knocks him off his feet; it undermines his confidence causing him to feel like an unworthy failure.
Losing a job once is hard enough, but to experience it several times can be demoralizing, unnerving, and even devastating. Worry sets in and sleepless nights ensue. As the joblessness period continues month after month, one searches every means possible to find a job and fight discouragement. Even so, searching can prove overwhelming and extremely disheartening which leads to depression and even more anxiety.
My husband battled the unemployment enemy just as surely as he had been trained as a former Army officer to battle foes. He sent out resume after resume by any means possible. He registered with internet job search sites and spent considerable time each day scouring opportunities online. Newspaper ads, job fairs, networking with friends and acquaintances in the sales field – he attempted them all.
And yet, nothing surfaced. Cover letters and resumes appeared to be ignored. Networking failed to make connections that led to interviews. Job fairs proved fruitless because he was told countless times that he was overqualified for the entry-level jobs being offered.
It seemed that the door to job opportunity wasn’t just closed, it was slammed shut. We battened down the hatches to weather this storm by curtailing our expenses. Now as we faced a longer season of unemployment, we tightened our budget even more severely eliminating all non-essentials.
We opted for no health insurance and hoped we stayed healthy. After paring down our household bills to a bare minimum, we calculated how long we could continue paying our mortgage and contributing to our son’s education. My part-time salary at a community non-profit organization did not cover necessary monthly expenses, so I began searching for full-time employment too.
We formed long-term contingency plans. Realizing home wasn’t just the house where we lived but where our family gathered together, and that could be anywhere, we discussed selling our home, even though we had hoped to live the rest of our lives there. If need be, we would sell. If downsizing proved imperative, so be it. We even deliberated over relocating to another state where jobs might be more plentiful.
We examined all options and kept praying, focusing on our faith in Christ Jesus. Somehow, through God’s provisions, we continued to meet necessary expenses. Our son received a huge blessing with a good-paying summer internship and a scholarship which would finance his senior year of college.
We prayed for guidance, and instead of surrendering to despair, my husband awakened early each morning commencing anew his job search, no matter how unsuccessful it seemed. He structured his time searching for jobs part of the day but spent the rest in an entirely different fashion.
He opened His Bible and delved deeper into God’s Word. He read, he studied, he contemplated, and he prayed not just for us but for others and their needs. And he praised and thanked God for His goodness, thanking Him even midst the difficult circumstances.
Following this new regimen of Bible study and prayer, my husband’s outlook changed. He experienced that peace that passes all understanding when we place total trust in God and His Word. He started sleeping better at night and his newly-found calm demeanor about this season of life eventually rubbed off on me, a chronic worrier. I too felt assurance that whatever transpired for us was God’s plan. And I knew that I must not just give lip service to my favorite passage of scripture about being thankful in all circumstances. I must put it into practice.
We purposely thanked God daily because even through this trying situation, He was faithful to provide our needs, although not necessarily our wants. We wholeheartedly trusted He would show us what was on His horizon next and realized that He was asking us to totally rely on Him, do our part, and wait for His perfect timing.
Our pastor approached my husband and asked him to lead a Bible study during this time. Praying about this opportunity to serve God, it became clear that He was opening a door, not for employment, but for my husband to grow in his spiritual walk, deepen his faith, and learn to rely, depend, and trust even more in God’s plan for the future and encourage others to do the same.
Now my husband spent part of his day preparing to lead weekly Bible study while still searching diligently for employment. He was living out his favorite scripture too: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” ~ Isaiah 40:31
As my husband waited and submersed himself in the Word, God’s perfect timing appeared. An interview led to a job offer with a small, local company. While it wasn’t a high-powered position with a large salary and perks, we already realized we could live on much less and it would meet our needs.
The position required little to no overnight travel, something that had wearied my husband in the last few years of his sales career. A blessing for both of us. As empty nesters, I looked forward to spending more time each evening with my husband instead of being home alone.
This answer to prayer blessed us in ways we hadn’t even thought about. The Lord already knew our needs and how He would provide them. And amazingly, my husband encountered an emotion he hadn’t felt for a very long time – he was excited to work!
Now, a few years later, we thank God for His provisions, but we are even more grateful for how He strengthened our faith during difficult times. Being jobless doesn’t mean being hopeless when your trust is in Christ Jesus.
“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” ~Albert Barnes