After a long career of promotions, raises, and recognition suddenly I was without a job. Like millions of Americans I had to ask myself some tough questions throughout the experience of being unemployed. Was God really there? Was He really in control of everything? Did He really love me? Did I have any other options besides following God’s direction in these tough circumstances?
I had been a Christian for many years, had studied and even taught the Bible, and had lived a fairly comfortable life free of any significant tests or trials of faith. Then I walked through a prolonged time of being without work and learned things about myself and about my God that I would never have known outside of the experience.
Being unemployed for a extended time reminded me of the three boys who were thrown into the fiery furnace in Daniel chapter three. My situation of mounting bills, family pressures, disappointing job interviews, and frustrating internet searches felt like I was suffering a “fiery” ordeal. I had read verses like 1 Chronicles 28:20 that says, “…’Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you….’, but I never really knew what God being “with me” meant until I was significantly unemployed. Then, I began to experience the comfort of His just being there in my life. Like the boys in Daniel 3:24,25, the king said that, even though they threw three into the fire, he could see four walking around in the fire – and the fourth, “Is like a son of the gods.” Now, whether this was the incarnate Christ, or an angel sent by Him I don’t know. But, I do know the boys were not left alone in the fire. I was not alone in the fire of my joblessness!
Jeremiah described my unemployment experience perfectly when he wrote Lamentations 3:17-20. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. (NLT)
I was without work for 25 months. At first, I had confidence this would work out all right. God was in control. He would provide a new and even better job. No problem! But, as time went by, I began to feel more and more alone and frustrated. I questioned everything about my life. Slowly it occurred to me, as it must have the three boys in the fiery furnace, that I was not alone. Christ was there with me. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).
As I continued to read, in Lamentations 3:21-24 I learned that Jeremiah’s conclusion was just the conclusion I needed.
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Even in the fire of being fired. The fiery ordeal of going through unemployment can be one of rejoicing in God’s love, sovereign control, power, provision, and closeness. In other words, it can be an experience of finding faith, and in that faith, comfort.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Think about it…