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.

ODJ: Life and Loss

June 9, 2016 

READ: Job 1:1-22 

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes (42:5). 

Since the early days of human existence it’s been a constant foe. Recently it came calling in a friend’s life as she lamented her children not walking with Jesus. Another friend bemoaned the death of what had been a loving marriage. A family member looked at me with teary eyes, trying to form words that couldn’t come due to dementia. Another family member, deep in the throes of grief because of her father’s death, said softly, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Loss affects us all.

Job experienced unimaginable loss. A good man in God’s eyes, he was concerned that his children possibly weren’t honouring their Creator in their “celebrations” (Job 1:1,4-5). Then, tearing at the very fabric of his soul, all of his sons and daughters died in a devastating catastrophe (v.19). What’s more, nearly all of his servants and hired help were murdered. His vast earthly goods were also stolen, leaving him broke and broken. Then a painful skin condition came calling (2:7-8).

Finally, as if the loss were not cruel and agonising enough, Job’s wife verbalised lost hope and faith. “Curse God and die,” she said to her husband (v.9).

We can identify with Job’s plight, even if we can’t fathom the extent of it. But we can also marvel at his initial responses. He praised God. “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord” (1:21). He acknowledged God’s rule over all creation. Job said, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (2:10).

Job had walked with God. But as he came through the fires of loss, he came to know and see Him more fully (42:5). May we do the same as God walks with us through loss.

—Tom Felten

365-day plan: Matthew 1:1-25

Read Isaiah 41:10 and consider what it says about God being present with us as we face loss in life. 
How have you suffered loss lately? Where are you going with your pain? How can God’s presence comfort and steady you? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

How I Dealt With The Loss of a Loved One

Written by Peerapat T, Thailand, originally in Thai

How do you remember a loved one who has passed away? For some, it could be through their daily conversations as they recall fond memories, while for others, it could be through mementos such as photographs.

For me, it’s the latter. My family has a tradition of putting up photographs of family members on the walls of our home. There are two photographs of my great-grandparents on our walls; they were there even before I was born. So even though I have never met them, they’ve become a familiar sight and a part of my childhood.

Naturally, as I grew older, more photographs were added to the collection. Some photographs bring back especially painful memories. One is that of my elder brother, who was badly injured in a motorcycle accident. I had just come to know the Lord then, and had gathered with my church members to pray for him. After two rounds of brain surgery, however, his condition did not improve, and he passed away shortly after.

Another photograph is of my grandmother who died from diabetes. But the one that affected me the most is that of my dad. One day, he had a heart attack and passed away within minutes. His sudden and unexpected passing left a deep sense of loss in my heart.

Recalling their passing has got me thinking: Why do we face death? We die because it is a consequence of our rebellion against God—all of us have sinned and fallen short of the  glory of God (Romans 3:23). Some of us deal with death by trying to avoid thinking about it altogether, or by living as if we would never die. But these approaches do not take away the inevitability and impending reality of death. Even our belief in God does not insure us against death or the experience of losing our loved ones.

However, what’s different for us as Christians is that we have hope in the face of death because of the precious gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross (Hebrews 9:27-28). We can take comfort in knowing that God walks through the dark valleys of death and loss with us.

Indeed, God comforted me greatly through His Word during my moments of grief and loss. One verse that spoke to me during an especially sorrowful moment was this, “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record?” (Psalms 56:8) The realization that God knew exactly how I felt brought me to tears and I was deeply comforted.

Having fellow believers pray for me also served as a reminder of His love and faithfulness in my life—that He has and will never forsake me in the most difficult of times. It was also an encouragement and testimony to the rest of my family who were not Christians. Truly, God’s love shines so bright through His people in these dark moments and brings about the healing of every broken heart.

Have you experienced a loss recently? Take heart, and remember that God is with you always and never stops loving you. Put your hope in Him and allow Him to be your comfort.

4 Ways to Cope with Pain and Loss

Written By Juan Carlos Tulalian, Philippines

One afternoon last December, I received a text message from my former youth pastor asking me to pray for his wife, who was facing complications during delivery. When he called me later to explain the situation in detail, I could sense the tension in his voice. Both his wife and their baby were in critical condition, and he feared that they would not survive.

The next morning, I received an update from him that his wife had survived, but their baby had not. As I read the message, I felt an immediate sense of loss. I couldn’t imagine the pain my pastor was going through.

No one can prepare for such sudden tragedies, whether it is death or a doctor’s diagnosis that we have an incurable disease. We may start asking: Where is God? How do I apply what I learned about suffering to my life? So how can we cope with such situations?

When Typhoon “Haiyan” hit the Philippines in 2013, it destroyed many places and left dead bodies lying in the streets. News footages showed scenes of a crying child, a father looking for his family, an injured grandmother, and many other victims of devastation. It was terrible; it was like a horror film playing out in reality. My heart had ached for those affected. Now, I felt just as lost for words when I heard about the loss of my pastor’s baby. I had no words of comfort, and I could not bring myself to utter lines like “It’s okay!”, “God has a purpose”, or “It’s the will of God.”

Some people try to numb their feelings of pain and loss by blocking out anything that would remind them of those feelings. But that doesn’t change reality. These experiences have taught me that escaping reality is not the solution. We need to face the reality that pain, hurt, and loss do exist:

(1) Embrace our feelings
Acknowledge the feelings of pain and loss. Let’s not mask our feelings and pretend that everything is okay because it’s not.

Through counseling, I learned to be open about my feelings instead of bottling them up, which included moments where I cried openly. Let’s look for trustworthy friends and fellowship groups whom we can share our struggles with and who can comfort us and point us to God.

When we embrace our feelings, we are acknowledging our humanity and this helps us see our need for God in life.

(2) Don’t be afraid to grieve
It’s okay to cry and grieve over our loss, and to cry out to God like the writer of Psalms did—“My God, why have you forsaken me?” . . . “How long Oh Lord will I wait?” . . . “Why are you downcast Oh my soul?”

Jesus is able to bear all our burdens. He knows what we’re going through and He grieves along with us, just as He did when Lazarus died (John 11:33-35). So let’s bring whatever we’re experiencing—anger, hatred, loss, hurt, pain, agony—to Him and cast our cares on Him. He understands what we are going through in life because He faced loss and pain Himself.

Let’s hold on to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of faith, our hope and future. He will wipe the tears from our eyes.

(3) Accept our situation
Pain, hurt, loss, and suffering are inevitable. But this is not a call to just grin and bear with tragedies in life; we can accept them because there is a hope to look forward to.

The apostle Paul tells us that every pain and suffering that we currently face is not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). And James teaches us that it is for the development and maturity of our faith that we go through trials of many kinds (James 1:2-3).

When I lost my job as a youth minister, it was hard for me to accept it. I lamented and asked God many questions, but it seemed as though God was silent. It took me a long time to accept the loss and realize that God had intended for me to grow beyond ministering in the church setting. He led me to serve in the community and be involved in social welfare work.

It’s usually after we realize that God allows things to happen for a purpose, for His glory and for our maturity that we can truly accept our situations.

(4) Entrust ourselves to God
Even when we pass through the darkest night of our souls and no light comes along our way, let’s trust God. Remember that He is faithful to His covenant, and will never leave nor forsake us.

Through prayer, devotion or even in fasting, let’s seek Him each day. No matter what comes our way, let’s always call out to Him, rely on His grace and rest upon Him.