My wife is 8 months pregnant, we are halfway through building our first home, and I just lost my job. The news came suddenly last Thursday evening. A short phone call with a senior partner in our firm, and quick call with HR on Friday, and I was done. My salary, our health coverage, and a core part of my identity slipped away with the passing of the seconds from Friday to Saturday.
Having reflected on this turn of events for a few days, I am now convinced even more that God is good. Blessing and loss exist for the glory of God, but sometimes, trials bear the greatest means for remembering the time-tested, rock-solid promises of God. In the midst of loss, here is what I remember about my God and His word:
- Work is a gift from God. God is the giver of great gifts, and one of the first gifts He gave to man was work (Genesis 2:15). Losing a job can turn a “have to” into a “get to” in a moment, and nothing reminds us of the value of something until it is gone.
- His promises are true. God commends the ant for storing up provisions in the summer (Proverbs 6:6-8). When we follow His word, as our family has done, then we find we are not lacking during this time of winter. God’s provision may come when there are no stores, but it may also come as the fruit of obedience. Both are means of grace.
- He brings rain on the just and the unjust. The sun and the rain rise and fall on the good and the evil (Matthew 5:45). God extends His common grace as a gift to all His creation, so my sense of entitlement about the prosperity and stature of my work is shown to be a liar. We are gifted and placed by the Lord for work that will bring His glory, not bring us comfort and pride.
- He tells us this life is a vapor. Careers are built brick by brick. We invest hours, and sweat, and passion, and we do well when we build them to the glory of God. But careers are like family, and prosperity, and suffering, and fame, and success—they are all but vapors (James 4:14). We grasp at mist when we hold too tight to anything but the firm reality of Christ.
- He gives and He takes away, but blessed be His name. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return,” says Job (Job 1:21). The covers of life that bookend our work and our passions and our pursuits have one central theme—whatever happens, whether success or failure, whether blessing or loss, comes from the hand of God, for our good, and His name is worthy to be praised.
- Trials heat the furnaces of our joy. We can only “count it all joy when [we] face various trials” (James 1:2) if we value joy in God more than joy in this world. Losing a job may be a trial, but it is also an occasion for joy because of the lasting value of what is produced in us.
- The testing of our faith produces endurance. Is endurance better than a salary? Only if we desire to “lack in nothing” (James 1:4). Faith steps out of the stands and onto the track during times of trial, and the labor of testing produces a steadfastness that works and stretches and grows up into the powerful gait of perfection.
- His power is made perfect in weakness. The shame felt in losing a job can cripple and weaken the soul. But Christ’s power is made perfect in this kind of soul, testifying to the sufficiency of His grace. Wherever there is loss, there also stands grace, and in this grace lies the power to boast in weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us (2 Corinthians 12:9).
- He abundantly supplies our every need. God provides, not my employer or my own strength. God feeds my family, not my employer or my own strength. God prepares our home, not my employer of my own strength. In Christ are infinite riches in glory, and from them, God will meet our every need (Philippians 4:19).
- Contentment is better than cash. We do well to be brought low, and to abound, to face plenty, and to face hunger, to live in abundance, or to live in need. For all of these provide a training ground in which we learn to be content, so that we might know the power of Christ through whom we can do all things (Philippians 4:11-13).
- Loss of a job is the battlefield for an anxious heart. “Do not be anxious,” Jesus tells us, because “life is more than food and clothing” (Matthew 6:25). Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is a fight of faith—believing God that He knows that we need these things, and that He will add them unto us, as we pursue Him above all else.
- Everything is to be counted as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus. The “surpassing worth of knowing Jesus” makes the greatest career to be rubbish (Philippians 3:8). When God strips things from our lives, we find out what we have left, and having Jesus, and knowing Him, is worth suffering loss of any kind.
- The cross is weightier still. Our work, our families, and our ministries are the fields of our lives in which we toil. And they are good, as gifts from God, to be used to further His kingdom and bring renown to His name. But even our greatest work doesn’t tip the scale of significance when compared to the work of Christ on the cross. Our labor reminds us of His labor; our loss reminds us of His loss, for our gain.
I am also reminded that my loss is but a fraction of the suffering in this world, and that billions of others would call me immeasurably rich, even now. And they would be right. My story is no sob story of destitution, and our family will be provisioned for a time by my previous employer and our emergency funds.
But the riches I want to rest in and taste at this moment are those that can only be found in the glory of Christ. I want to count this trial as joy, to sit in the reality of my weakness, so that I might know the strength of Christ. And I want to proclaim to the world that God is good, that He gives and takes away, and in all this, blessed be His name!
Question: Have you lost a job before, and how have you seen in it that God is good?