Hope for the Jobless
The job market is terrible. Here's how to make it through.
Let’s face facts: the economy sucks.
For those of us who are older, it has been a swift kick in the shins. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment numbers during the fourth quarter of 2010 for those aged 25-34 were a depressing 9.6 percent. Taking a closer look at the number, you will see the number was 9.9 percent for men, 9.3 percent for women. Silver lining, the overall number actually dropped since the same time last year, but by less than half a percentage point (although it rose for women). That small number looms large.
You could have been laid off or, like this writer, just finished an advanced degree hoping to emerge into an economy begging for your skills.
Did not quite happen, did it?
Your typical day probably looks like this:
9 a.m.: Wake up and then lie in bed for a half-hour thinking, listening to music or playing with an iPod or iPhone.
10 a.m. – noon: Catch up on TiVoed shows from last night or the night before.
Noon: Lunch, consisting of either fast food or cereal depending on how much money is in the wallet.
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Go to either Borders, Barnes & Noble or Starbucks (depending on your rotation) for the fifth day in a row and look/apply for jobs online.
4 p.m.: Return home or go to the nearby gym and work out.
6 p.m.: Dinner, same choice as lunch.
7 p.m. – bedtime: Watch the television, read or return to Borders, Barnes & Noble or Starbucks to continue your afternoon activities.
Not much of a day, but there is something missing there. Hint: He is omnipotent, omnipresent and has a white beard (that last part is a joke, but you get it).
That’s right: God.
It’s easy to lose motivation for spending time with God. You are stuck in this morass of unemployment, feeling lost and probably alone.
Gainfully employed friends do not understand what it is like to be in your 20s and unemployed; some have been in their careers for at least five years and some had jobs waiting for them right out of college. When they try to help, it most likely revolves around this oft-told verse:
So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:31-33, NIV).
Easier said than done. The folks living in the time that verse was written did not have to worry about rent, electricity bills, gas bills, cable bills, phone and Internet, car payments and health care bills. Life goes a lot more smoothly if you have a job. It’s discouraging to graduate from college with your whole life in front of you … and discover your best option is to move home.
And in your late 20s, it’s even worse. As you get closer to 30, it seems you are expected to have the wife, the 2.5 kids, the nice car, the suburban home and the fulfilling career doing what you love. If you’ve been laid off, you suddenly had this dream ripped from you without warning. Those who stayed in school to get that MBA or master’s or J.D. to obtain that job feel as if those years were wasted. Yet due to whomever or whatever is to blame for this extended economic trough (let us not get political here), those hopes have not come to fruition.
Life seems to have lost its meaning. God has lost meaning. Praying feels empty, and the Bible is just gathering dust on the coffee table. How does one, to use the British phrase, “Keep Calm and Carry On” when there is no motivation to worship God or continue the day-to-day grind of trying to find work? That’s the big question.
I don’t have the answer at hand, but there are sources for the answer. One is that great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”
You look at each day as a sad continuation of the last. The only way to break that is to look toward God. It makes the days more bearable, but it takes work. We must be willing to spend a few minutes each day looking at God’s word and seeing what He has to say to us.
Give ear and come to me;
Hear me, and your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
My faithful love promised to David (Isaiah 55:3, NIV).
If we can forget that we are old, that we are unemployed, and just remember we are God’s, then we can make it through these aimless days. The only factor should be what we can do to glorify God and His word, instead of lying in bed and wondering what job we will be rejected for next. Another verse to remember is:
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
For the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Free me from the trap that is set for me,
For you are my refuge (Psalm 31:3,4).
All of us who face joblessness can, by keeping strong in the Lord, realize one day this pain of unemployment will pass and we will find our way in God’s way. The key to making it through is remembering, amidst the rejection, applications and unemployment benefit forms, God is there; we just have to let Him touch us.