I recently had the opportunity to experience just a taste of what it is like to be unemployed. With the recent shutdown of the United States government, my job as a contractor was suspended until further notice. For the first few days, I have to admit, I enjoyed the free time. I took the time to take care of things around the house in preparation for the winter, I enjoyed the company of my family, and I even took a little more time to relax. However, as one day off turned into two, two into three, and eventually many more, my anxiety heightened to quite an uncomfortable level.
Even though I knew that the government shutdown would eventually end, I found myself in the immediate moment with feelings of genuine worry. I really did lose the sense of security I had in my job, and it caused some real stress. It is during times of stress when things that might otherwise remain hidden come to the surface. Trials, like sudden unemployment, have real value to a Christian because of this fact that they have the ability to refine us (James 1:2-4). What came to the surface for me was the realization that I had placed too much value on having security of a job that ultimately is not completely secure. This realization was an immense relief for me to find.
The Bible provides plenty of flawless guidance for how to live, but there are two keys that help to balance how we live and work that I find most helpful. The first key is that we must know that God is in control and that His Will is perfect. When we answer the calling that God has for us, and we commit to live our lives His Way at the time of baptism, we sign up to live within the boundary and circumstances that He controls. The events of our life are in the hand of God to control (Ecclesiastes 9:1), which means that there is nothing that we might go through that He does not want us to experience. It is very helpful to let that thought soak in. We should be relieved to know that the burden of controlling our circumstances is not ours, but God’s. Our job is to choose the correct way to respond to the individual, custom-made tests that God has designed for us.
The second key that I find helpful is to place value where it belongs. It is easy to get wrapped up in the apparent importance of the things in the carnal world in which we live. Taking the events we experience, the material we accumulate, and even ourselves too seriously can be dangerous. This turns us away from God, and has the effect of turning God away from us. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Investing the correct amount of our resources – care, attention, time, or money – in the things we do and have in this life should prove that our walk in life is a spiritual one, guided by God.
It might be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), but once that passes, there is a tremendous relief that we can experience as He lifts that weight from our shoulders (Matthew 11:30).