When a Christian faces the hardship of unemployment
After a successful 13-year career at some high-tech company, I was suddenly called to a meeting with one of the managers, the same as my coworkers. In the cold and impersonal words of a previously memorized script, each of us were told that the company had decided to cut down its headcount. All of a sudden, 18 people in the division were jobless. Among many hundreds more who lost their jobs that same day in the company. Among the many thousands of workers who lose their jobs every month all around the world regardless of their effort, their performance or their loyalty.
When someone takes away the job of a worker, he also takes away his income source, unsettles his economic stability, and steals his peace and many nights of sleep. He causes many couples to be in conflict, some others to fall into depression and many to succumb to alcoholism. Unless it is due to a continuous poor performance or dishonesty, I am convinced that whoever fires a good worker must ask God for forgiveness. Because, quite often, the damage he causes to his employee is huge.
The children of God have the blessing of being able to face situations like this surrendering ourselves with trust to our provident Father. Being Christians, we also have the possibility of forgiving the person who fired us unjustly and banish the bitterness and resentment a layoff usually comes with. But being humans, we tend to be afraid, to feel distressed and to ask ourselves a thousand times, “Why me?”
I’ve been always fond of getting close to God through spirituality. But this time of trial meant to me the most profound closeness to the Lord, a tireless search for his favor and the most persistent prayer to God in all my life. I learned to repeat once and again, day and night, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (see Luke 18:13)
When I lost my job, many came to my aid without me asking. They searched for openings, referred me to people they knew, got together and — even though we didn’t need it — put together boxes of groceries that would last several months. And they prayed for me and my family with all their strength, until the Lord blessed me with a new job that ended up being more interesting, that had a bigger social impact, and that even offered a bigger paycheck.
I understood then that God allows his children to undergo tests like this because they help us to get closer to him, and bluntly make us realize that we cannot rely on ourselves alone and that we depend on him. At the same time, those who are close to us get the opportunity of being better people and better children of God: If we never face a difficulty, how will our friends be able to be solidary and generous, and to pray for someone else?
When the test was over, we all had won: I found a better job, my family got closer to God and we became closer to each other. We learned to be more frugal and to better manage what we have. And my friends became better Christians.
In September, we celebrate Labor Day in America. If you are unemployed, I can tell you out of my own experience: Be courageous and trust the Lord. Do not cease to repeat, with your hand over your heart, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” At the most appropriate time, his provident hand will reach out to you, with the job offer you really need.
Be passionate about our faith!
Mauricio I. Perez, a member of St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island, is a Catholic journalist. His website is www.seminans.org.
This is the English translation of the “Semillas de la Palabra” column that appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of NORTHWEST CATHOLIC.