Written By Gerald Tan, Singapore
As someone whose job involves helping others find employment, I have met many people who face different challenges in their job search. Some of the key ones are: constant rejection from employers, skills mismatch, and the lack of networking skills.
This year, my country has been facing slow economic growth, which has led to many businesses shutting down due to low profits and debts incurred. As a result, many people have lost their jobs and I have seen more people approach my company for help to find jobs after being retrenched.
One thing I’ve noticed about people who have lost their jobs is that it usually affects them beyond the monetary aspect—it often leads to them feeling a loss in purpose, identity, and social status.
Take the case of my client, Peter*. For many decades, Peter worked as a regional supply-chain professional in various multi-national corporations. He had a five-figure monthly salary which supported his two teenage boys, his home-maker wife, and his aged mother. Peter was a Christian and attended church regularly with his family. Unfortunately, he was retrenched when another company took over in early 2016. All of a sudden, his stable financial source was cut off. Despite countless attempts to find another job, he was unsuccessful.
The once-cheerful Peter slowly turned into an unhappy and reclusive person who complained about his former employers and blamed the government for not providing him with job opportunities. He even complained about his friends who tried to help him. His relationship with his family also deteriorated and he eventually sank into depression. The loss of his job completely devastated him.
What Peter went through reminds me of the Israelites’ situation. In the book of Jeremiah, we read about how Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and his army invaded Israel. It was God’s punishment on the Israelites for their disobedience, and it was heavy: the Israelites lost all their possessions and the land God had originally blessed them with. Displaced by the Babylonians, they lamented and yearned to be back in Israel.
God, however, heard their cries and showed His mercy and love to them. Through the prophet Jeremiah, He promised to deliver them—after 70 years. In the meantime, He instructed the Israelites to trust in Him and to start afresh, pray, and prosper in the place they were going to be enslaved (Jeremiah 29).
Although the context of the Israelites’ suffering is different from ours today, it is a good reminder for us to reflect on our own response to unexpected downturns in our lives. Is our first reaction to suffering to complain bitterly to God—just like the Israelites?
In times of difficulty, it’s easy to lose hope, blame God, and complain about everything. But when we focus on our own problems, we undermine God’s power in our lives—we give glory to these trials by magnifying them and allowing them to turn our lives inside out. But God has shown that He is always faithful to His people, again and again. Instead of focusing on the difficulties and struggles around us, we ought to look to God and trust in His sovereignty and plans.
Another Christian client of mine, John*, went through a similar situation as Peter. In 2015, he was retrenched after three decades of working in the logistics industry. Like Peter, he had teenage children and his spouse was a homemaker. But what differentiated John from Peter was his response. John trusted God throughout all the difficulties he faced in his job search. Each time he faced a rejection, he continued to have faith and hope in God. He prayed harder, was receptive to help, and maintained a sense of hope and positivity throughout the 10 months of unemployment. Eventually, job opportunities came along. Today, John is a trainer with several private training schools.
So, for those of us who have lost our jobs or are going through a tough time financially, let’s be encouraged that God is always there to sustain us. Let’s look upon Him and trust that He will help us start afresh and get back on our feet—no matter how long it takes.
*Not their real names