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How Can Good Come Out of Job Loss?

Have you ever lost your job? I have. It feels horrible.

My story isn’t one of rejection. I didn’t get fired, so much as the job I had no longer existed. The company chose to cancel a conference it was running, and I was its director. Since my role was no longer necessary, I no longer had a job. I didn’t get fired—yet it hurt just as much as if I had been.

When you’re in that situation, it’s hard to see any light at the end of the dark tunnel. It feels like your world is crashing down around you. You find yourself asking thousands of questions, whether in your head or out loud. How will I pay my bills? What’s next? What did I do to deserve this? How could they? Why would God allow this to happen? Will anyone ever want to hire me again after this failure? If you keep a cool head, you might avoid yelling and throwing things, but the anger will probably still be there.

I experienced all of that. The questions. The anger. But I also experienced something different. I call it “the hidden option”. I experienced hope for greater possibilities even though I couldn’t see the hope clearly.

I’m convinced that God can take everything negative in our lives and do something creative with it. In Genesis, the story was told of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers. When the tables turned and Joseph triumphed in spite of their actions, he said this to them: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen 50:20 ESV) God took their evil and turned it to good.

 The thing is, I believe God has already created the opportunities for beauty in our lives. It’s up to us to find them. God seems to encourage us to be active and diligent in our search of both Him and His answers—and He promises to respond. In Matthew 7:7 NLT, Jesus told us, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Could it be that God wants us to grow in our persistence and our dependence on him? Could it be that God has hidden possibilities in your life, and He wants you to keep digging for them?

When there seems to be nothing good in your job loss, I believe there are hidden options for what can come next.

I have a friend who had this experience when his world crashed down around him. He was a communications director at a large, internationally-known church. His pastor was caught in the middle of scandal, and it was his responsibility to defend both the church and his pastor. My friend did his best, but he experienced fiery arrows heading his way from every direction. News outlets even quoted him, skewing his words to further crucify the pastor and his church. It felt like a hopeless situation.

It got even worse when the pastor stepped down. The church dissolved, and my friend was left without a job. Not only that, he felt like he had a black mark on his name because of his involvement in the scandal. Who would want to work with a person caught in the middle of all that failure?

He candidly related his story to me over coffee one day, and I could tell he felt like that part of his life was a complete waste. He was doing his best to move past that situation and hoped to let that part of his life fade into obscurity.

I saw his pain, but I didn’t see that season of his life as a failure. In fact, I saw it as a stepping stone that God had prepared for him. He had first-hand experience of something that nearly every megachurch pastor fears. They all fear that one sound bite taken out of context. They fear the high-ranking leader in their church exposed for secret sin. That’s not something many pastors know how to even begin preparing for, which is where my friend enters the picture.

He saw his experience as something to sweep under the rug, but I saw it as something that could be used to help these churches. He could teach these pastors the things he did right and the things he did wrong. He could help them prepare for potential troubles and put plans in place for the worst-case scenario. Most churches value protecting their congregation from the media storm they’ve seen happen at other congregations, so it’s a service that would be in high demand.

As I shared my idea with him, I saw hope enter his eyes again. When I shed light on the hidden option, he became excited once again. When the world seemed to burst in flames around him, there was a brief clearing in the smoke that could suddenly help it all make sense again. The hope was there, he just needed some help to see it.

No matter the circumstance for your losing your job, I believe there is a hidden option out there for you. It’ll be hard to see it because of the emotions swirling around the situation. But if you’re willing to look for it, you can find it. Here are some ideas to help you find the hidden option when you can’t seem to find it.

  1. Ask God to show you the hidden options in this situation.
  2. Talk to someone who has been in your situation, has successfully navigated job loss or what seems like failure, and will encourage you. Ask them what they see for your life.
  3. Look for the thin glimmer of light, no matter how small, and move toward it.

Life isn’t over. Your ability to earn a living isn’t over. God can turn the situation around. I’ve seen Him do it in my life and in the life of my friends. I know He can do it for you too.

Landing in the Pig Pen Instead of My Dream Job

Written By Ellen Bargh, UK

As I walked into the farm yard in my pink-striped wellies and oversized farm gear, I was hopeful that this job would only be for a couple of weeks.

A friend and I had always joked about me going to work at his family farm in UK, my home country. It had always seemed ridiculous to me. I couldn’t work on a farm; I worked with people, not animals. I liked the comfort of being inside—not getting mucky and cold.

But here I was, working on a farm while waiting to fulfil my dream of living abroad. Over the past six years of studying in Canada, I had started to build my life there; I had friends and even my own apartment. When a job I had desired for a long time became vacant, it seemed like everything was coming together. The job involved working with students and doing administration. I loved the thrill of tasks and details as well as talking to people and helping them as they went through their years in college.

The week before I was due to fly back to the UK, I was interviewed for the position of Assistant to Dean of Students. All I needed was a visa to move to Canada to start my dream life.

But things didn’t work out as I wanted. Those couple of weeks on the farm turned into a couple of months, and my dream slowly slipped away. In the end, I did not qualify for the visa, and the job was filled by someone else.

Now, instead of my fun pink-striped wellies, I had proper green farm wellies. Reality had set in that I was going to be there for what seemed like the long haul. Instead of sitting in a nice lovely office, I was in a pig pen shovelling muck. Instead of listening to students talk excitedly about starting college, I was deafened by the squeals of piglets ringing constantly in my ears. This wasn’t what I dreamed my life would be after finishing my degree.

As I drove to work each day, often with tears streaming down my face, I would ask God why He had me working at a farm with pigs rather than with people who needed Jesus. What use was I in a pig pen? I wasn’t telling anyone about Jesus or working with children. How could this be what God wanted for me?

It was a daily battle to go to work and take my frustrations with the mundane to God. I wrestled with this for months. I was weary of what seemed like meaningless work. But the longer I stayed, the more honest I became with myself and God. God began to soften my heart and show me that He wanted me to talk to Him all day while I was working. He wanted me to love Him for Him—not because of what He does for me or because He could give me a better life.

I looked to the Bible for comfort, remembering that popular verse from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I started reading Jeremiah to find out more. I was shocked by the verses that came before verse 11. Jeremiah 29:5-7 says: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God had sent the Israelites into exile. And while they were there, they were to build a life and do good to the place they were in, even though they didn’t want to be there or thought they shouldn’t be there.

As I went over these verses in my mind, I began to see the good things God had put before me in the place I was in. I was working with a wonderful family, and I had an amazing church family where I was asked to be involved in youth and children’s work. Of course, my desire to work with people was still there. And though my desire to be in a different job didn’t fade, I gave what I had to where I was at.

Recently, I read an Our Daily Bread booklet on contentment where the writer Gary Inrig writes, “Contentment, then, is not about self-sufficiency but Christ-sufficiency. It is not resignation but satisfaction. It is not acceptance of the status quo or surrender of ambition but submission to Christ and His purposes. Godly contentment isn’t about complacency or passivity or an otherworldly detachment from life . . . It is a deep-seated satisfaction that is the gift of Christ.”

A good job was never going to give me the contentment I wanted. It was only by looking to Jesus that I could find contentment and peace. The more time I dug into the things God gave me in the place I was at, I realised it was Him that I needed, and not a job.

Here’s three things that helped me to be content:

 

1. Give thanks

Give thanks daily for specific things God has given us each day—not just in the good times but all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we thank God, we focus on the good things, and soon envy and discontentment fade.

2. Give what you have in every situation

Even if we aren’t where we want to be, we can seek the good of the people or place we are in. Rather than tell ourselves we just need to get through this period of time till God takes us to the next thing, we can give ourselves fully to people or tasks during the time we are in “exile” (Jeremiah 29:5-6).

 

3. Seek godly characteristics rather than possessions or status

If we are always focusing on what is next—the next job, the next relationship or the next house—we aren’t focusing on becoming more like Christ. It doesn’t matter where we are, God’s will for us is to be like Jesus.

I Was Blind, But Now I See

Written by Samarpal L., Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

It was six years ago that I lost the vision in my left eye. Today, after much struggle, I can finally see God’s purpose in it.

I still remember the date: October 31, 2011. I was cramming hard for my mid-term tests on campus with a group of friends when we were approached by some senior students. They wanted us to join them in tawuran, which is a fight typically held by high school students.

They reasoned that as their juniors, we had to honor and obey them. If we refused, they would use their position as laboratory assistants to fail our laboratory scores. As a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, I was eager to do well for my tests. I was worried that my grades would suffer and hesitantly joined them.

There we were, hundreds of us, trading blows on the street. In the middle of the tawuran, someone threw a stone and it hit my left eye. I was so shocked by the impact that I couldn’t register what had happened. I touched my face and realized that blood was gushing out from my eye.

My friends rushed me to the closest hospital. The doctor did a small surgery on my eye and sewed the eyelid shut. He told me that there was only a small chance for a full recovery because my cornea had been torn.

I could not believe it. I kept thinking about what this would mean for my future. I had been working so hard as I have always wanted to be an engineer. But now my dreams had been dashed. Surely no organisation would hire someone like me: an engineer with one eye.

My fears turned out to be true. After graduating, I went for interview after interview and was rejected time and again. Even though I passed the psychology and expertise tests with ease, I would always fail the health test. It became a familiar refrain: my prospective employers felt unsure about my disability. They could not see how someone like me could do the job.

I was crushed. It felt as if God had forsaken me. Why did He put me through this? Slowly, I began to question God’s goodness and my relationship with Him turned sour.

I tried to pray and continue doing my devotion, but I was full of bitterness. I could not accept the situation. In the end, I gave up trying—I stopped praying and reading my Bible for about three months.

God Working in Me

But God had not given up on me. By chance—or maybe not—I read an online article that turned out to be a true wake-up call.

It said “God is waiting patiently for you to come and greet Him when you wake up in the morning and before you sleep every night. Are you really that arrogant to choose not to greet Him?”

Reading that, I really felt God speaking to me. I was so focused on my disappointment and my negative circumstances that I could not see how God had been blessing me throughout my life. I realized that even with the loss of my left eye and my supposed promising future as an engineer, He was still good to me.

My heart was broken and I cried out to God. I wanted to rebuild my personal relationship with Him. I joined a cell-group, and the members encouraged and cared for me. Even when I felt disappointed, I trained myself to pray and read my Bible regularly.

One day, when I was reading the Bible during my daily devotion, I was reminded of Job. As I read about how much he suffered and how much God took away from him, I was humbled. Although he was put through so much physical and emotional hardship, there was not one instance in which he complained or blamed God for what had happened to him.

I felt so ashamed of myself and I cried. I realized that what I had gone through was nothing compared to what Job experienced in his life. I resolved to change myself and my attitude.

Learning to Trust Him Fully

 Even though I still face difficulties in my life, I’m grateful that God gives me the strength to overcome them. He reminds me not to give up through the encouragement from my cell group, reading His Word and talking to Him through prayer.

Today, I am still jobless, but I am certain that God has always been with me this whole time. Yes, it is still difficult for me to achieve my dream of being an engineer, but I believe that God has prepared everything I need in this world. I’m sure He also has prepared a place for me in Heaven, so that I can be with Him always.

Through this incident, I’ve learned that God wants me to learn to trust Him fully, and not half-heartedly. To trust Him when our life is smooth-sailing is easy, but to keep trusting Him when times get tough is much harder. Even so, that’s exactly what He wants from us—to trust Him even through the difficult times.

That’s how I try to live my life right now. Even though losing my vision in my left eye was a bitter experience, I know that there might be more hardships to come that I’ve yet to face. While some people brush it off as bad luck, I believe that everything that happens to me is planned by God because nothing can happen without God’s consent.

Hence, it is so important to me to be grateful in every step of my life. It is just as the apostle Paul said “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Why I Stopped Proving Myself At Work

Written By LN, Singapore

I was not excited to start my journey as a working adult. People had been giving me tips on how to succeed and be more outspoken—and it wearied me.

My fears materialized when I eventually started work in June this year. I disliked being in a new environment—the office—where I had to be cautious about how I presented myself. I knew people would form impressions of me based on what they saw and heard. I felt like my personality was being assessed based on the comments or funny jokes I made, and my competency as a worker was being measured by what I said in passing.

Every day was spent not only trying to complete the work assigned to me, but also “doing well” in my interactions with these new colleagues. I was constantly striving to gain the acceptance of my colleagues. I wanted to be seen as a capable, diligent, and humble worker.

I was also wary about the comments they made about my personality, dressing, and abilities. I once bumped into a familiar face in office, but the reunion turned sour when a fellow colleague got the both of us to compare our capabilities to “see who’s better”. I felt judged and drained at the end of each day—although I acknowledge that some part of it had to do with my oversensitivity and insecurity.

Over time, I grew increasingly insecure of my abilities. I beat myself up over careless mistakes I made, or unnecessary comments I gave. Soon, my worth became pegged to my successes or failures in the office. I felt like I had no value apart from my job and the things I did for the company. All this took a toll on my self-worth. I cried every Sunday because I was so overwhelmed by feelings of insufficiency, and dreaded each coming week of work.

 

God’s Counter-Cultural Gospel

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)

All along, I had the “head knowledge” that I did not have to seek man’s approval, and only God’s—but not the “heart knowledge”. It was only when I struggled in my workplace that I had to intentionally choose to embrace this truth daily.

I reminded myself that Christ had saved me and called me to be a child of God without me having to do anything. All I had to do was to put my faith in Him. I didn’t need to prove that I could live a life that was worthy of His saving. I didn’t need to present any skills before Him, neither did I need to earn His grace. By God’s grace, I was chosen and loved.

No matter what people think of me, I knew that my prize would never be taken away. I was worthy before God because of Christ the Savior—my worth was not pegged to my success and failures at work, but the worthiness of Jesus! In Christ, I realized, I was freed from the world’s expectations to prove myself worthy of men’s approval.

 

Knowing My Worth In The Workplace

Of course, knowing this truth did not change the fact that I still faced judgment in my workplace. But I realized that I could change the way I responded to it. So, gradually, I stopped calculating my every move and measuring my words in fear of what others would think, knowing that in Christ I was always worthy. I stopped letting my successes and failures in the workplace determine my self-esteem and worth, knowing that they did not have any effect on my inherent value as a child of God. I took heart in the fact that my worth to God would never change.

This has freed me to work sincerely and joyfully for God without fear of judgment. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is a Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

 

Let’s pray that we can hold on to this unchanging truth and that it will sink deeply into our hearts and provide peace, freedom, and joy in our workplace.