God’s Provision When You’re Jobless
The world is hurting. Commodity prices are rising, populations are exploding, governments are broke, and jobs are hard to find. The media likes to talk about these issues from a macro-economic perspective, but opening yourself to the realities of these seemingly abstract trends reveals a difficult truth: men and women of all ages and backgrounds are jobless and hurting. It’s destroying families. Today I’d like to share one of their stories with you – one that divulges a truth we must all keep in perspective.
Last month I met a man named Robert [name changed for privacy]. Robert is a middle-aged father of three beautiful girls who spent most of his adult life as a successful businessman. He climbed the corporate ladder admirably, sent his children to a private school, and spent a week every winter in Mexico with his family. It was the life Robert always dreamed of – until one day it all came crashing down.
“I was on cruise control,” Robert told me. “I always just assumed life progressed linearly – that the corporate ladder I worked so hard to climb would continue to be an upward track. I never dreamed that one day it would change. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do.”
Two companies merged. Positions were eliminated. Robert was fired. Although not buried in debt, he had bills to pay: mortgage, tuition, insurance, auto loans, and more. Losing his job was a nightmare scenario that coincided with a rush of darkness, fear, and doubt.
Trusting that God would take care of him and his family, Robert put his best foot forward and started looking for a new job. His church preached prosperity. His friends told him to stand on God’s promises for provision. So as any good believing man would do, Robert turned to a fervent season of prayer and trust in God.
“Nobody wanted to hire a 43-year old man looking for work out of necessity. I had no choice but to turn to God for help. I was certain that God would provide. He always does, right?”
Things only got worse. Robert never did find another job, and now the bank was calling. Months late on payments, Robert watched his life slip away. The phone calls from collectors increased. Each ring of the telephone was a piercing reminder of how Robert had failed himself and his family. Darkness continued to pour in. Finally, Robert ran short on faith and cried out to God in anger.
“Why are you doing this? You promised to provide for me in my time of need! I’ve been waiting patiently, trusting in you, for nothing!”
Silence. Robert heard nothing from God. He felt offended. Forgotten. More hopeless than ever. Anger persisted and Robert stopped going to church. Full of anger and bitterness, Robert and his family drifted away from God – still jobless and on a new journey very different that the first half of his adult life.
Why did God let this happen?
Months later, I talked with Robert again. Although still bitter, he spoke candidly about his experience. Among other things, he asked me why God ignored him and did not fulfill his promises of prosperity and care. He justified his anger by explaining how he patiently waited on the Lord for blessing. As that conversation unfolded, the Lord filled me with a moment of wisdom. I saw it. I understood why.
“Robert, I’m not sure God ignored you,” I started. He looked up, offended and skeptical.
“Remember how much it snowed this winter? People at church were begging for help. Snow removal companies were paying 3x normal rates for seasonal help. You had the time. Why didn’t you work?”
Robert’s problem was that his definition of blessing was not the same as God’s. While Robert was expecting truckloads of cash to be dumped into his backyard, God was dumping truckloads of snow. The truth – one that Robert eventually accepted through a season of forced humility – is that God’s blessing most often comes in the form of hard work, not cash. And as silly as that sounds, you’d be surprised how often we forget that. I know I do.
When I tithe, for some reason I expect to find a $20 bill on the ground or to get a bonus at work. I have this odd perception that God returns favor with luck. Never do I expect Him to return favor with work. But the truth is, God’s blessing and provision is the opportunity to earn more – not a guarantee of more by itself. Today I want to encourage you – maybe in a way that you have not been encouraged yet – by telling you that God still does care; that He has provisions in mind. They just might not come in the shape and size that you’re expecting.
God dumped snow on Robert’s backyard. What is He dumping in yours? Work hard and enjoy the blessing of the Lord.
Photo Credit: opusbloo (via Flickr, Creative Commons License)