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Does your blood pressure rise at the news of major falls in the stock market? If I were honest with you, I’d have to say, yes. It hurts to see that 1200+ points from the stock market could evaporate in a mere week or so.

Yet, I have to re-focus and ask myself: do I trust God for all things? Does He not give and take, and blessed be His name?

When I see thousands of dollars go down the drains, it’s heartbreaking, but I also know that God’s got it all under control. The stock market is merely an instrument, not salvation. Remembering that God is the one who provides for our needs, not the stock markets, is food for thought. I pray that I would trust God more each day, and rely not on my own ways.

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I got the contract proposal!!

After weeks of deliberation and reviews, meetings and discussions, my employer has agreed to take me on an 8-month contract, renewable, full-benefits, with a significant pay increase. I don’t know how to explain it all, but only as a great answer to prayer. Truly, it’s been an uncertain time for us, not knowing what will unfold in the future. The answer today tells me that I’m working for at least 8 months on a steady income and reliable paycheque. Very pleasing and happy news!!!

If you’re reading this and you’re unemployed, I want to tell you that I’ve been there. I think almost everyone has been there. There are dips and troughs in our lives, times of trials that demand first prayer and then patience. God knows what you need, so don’t fret. His promises can be trusted!

There’s an exceptional feeling on Friday afternoons, having finished off a good week at work, to come home to the smiling and giggling face of my son who comes bouncing up to the door exactly when it opens. I can honestly say that there has been no better emotion that causes my soul to soar than Jasper’s smiling face when he comes running to me. I suppose that’s how God must feel each time we go running to him.

Life seems to offer a mountain of indecision, and we’re often left wondering what it is that we’re supposed to do. If you’re like me, I’ve often knelt before God and simply asked him what it is that He wants me to do. I find it’s easier to do what’s before me than to listen and wait for God’s direction. But I feel reassured that although we make elaborate plans to do something, it’s God who directs our steps. Careful prayer and petitions to God are important steps, but so is trusting God to lead you in His ways.

I have a written test through the Public Service Commission tomorrow. It’s the Level 1 General Competency Test which is aimed at screening candidates for the next hiring stage. I’m rather lukewarm about it; I have a sincere desire to teach, but this opportunity with the federal government is also one that could provide a lot of job security. Again, I’m relying on God for His guidance, and I know that taking the test is simply trusting that He’s got all things in His grip; all I need to do is follow Him.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. —Colossians 3:23-24

How many times have you read this one when you’ve had a rough time at work? How many times has your pastor pointed out the fact that we have a master in heaven who loves us, even if our “masters” on earth don’t?

Well, a true key to finding satisfaction at work, regardless of the kind of work you do (legitimate work, that is), is to know who you’re working for. Yes, Mr. Smith may be your immediate supervisor, and he may be the one putting the piles of work on your desk, but your true boss is not on earth. The clearer that picture becomes, the more satisfaction you wil find at work.

I’ve been strugling with this for the past few days. First, I’m paid at a tremendously low hourly rate. It’s not the bare minimum, but it’s enough to pay the major expenses in our everyday lives: rent, food, telephone bills and transportation. At the end of the month, I’m not sure how much will be left for anything else. Thankfully we have savings to use. My point is that the low level of pay, and thus thelow level of responsibility and challenge, can blur the focus of who my true employer is. I see this position I have as a test of my faith, testing my belief that God’s always going to provide for me, and this job is an example of his provisions. It may not provide riches or a store of savings, but it does provide for my family’s needs.

I could never have seen myself in this position: a family to support and a job that isn’t going beyond my financial expectations. Yet, I know, too, that God’s doing a new thing here for me, and He’s always cared for us, provided for us, and nurtured us. So why should this situation bring about any worry? Trusting God to bring you through transitions, through gaps, across mighty rivers and deep oceans, is one way to live a life a true faith.

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I wanted to share with visitors this incredible series of comments from a random visitor who, after 9 months of being unemployed, found work the day after she posted on my blog. I say very clearly that my blog was not responsible for her finding work, and I take no credit on this matter. However, it does highlight one important fact: having paid work that supports your family or yourself is a gift. It might not seem like a gift while you’re working, but as you will read below, being without work when you’d just about do anything is far worse than having work. Having a godly attitude at work, regardless of the kind of work or the pay you receive or the status of your job title, is, at the end of the day, far more important.

Here is the visitor’s comments below:

“I, too, typed in “God what am I supposed to do?” Did you ever imagine that phrase would be one that brought so many people to your page??

I’m sitting here watching yet ANOTHER free dvd from the library after a dinner of frozen asparagus and bread and cheese, shivering because I can’t afford to turn on my heat, and wondering what I’m going to do now that I’ve drawn the last $30 I’m eligible for in unemployment checks. I’m a good worker, a hard worker, a smart worker. I hate handouts. But I’ve applied for job after job, week after week, for 9 months now and gotten TWO interviews out of it. I pray about it, talk with strong Christians in my life about it, read scripture and meditate on it with my current situation in mind… and still find myself typing my ultimate query and frustration into a Google search. Why?!

You just feel so empty of answers, of logic, of the ability to reason sometimes. You know wisdom is given to those who seek it, but at the end of the day you still want to have a roof over your head, food in your belly. Wisdom may teach you the worthlessness and temporary nature of so many of the things we take for granted as “necessary” parts of our lives, but does wisdom then tell us to expect to live a life of abject poverty and constant hunger because abundance isn’t “necessary”?

I’m not looking for something miraculous. I’m not looking to make loads of money, or even as much as I made at my last job (which I lost because the company closed due to the crumbling economy which is hurting so many of us). I’m not looking for greatness, for gold, or for glory.

I’m looking for sustenance. For the ability to pay my rent, pay for my car, pay for my student loans. To pay back my grandmother who’s generosity has kept me in groceries. To pay back my also-struggling parents who’ve given me so much in the way of true love and support. For the ability to work. To serve and love through work. I love people, I love committing to a task, I love bringing things to completion, I love working.

What’s happening? What is this? Why is this? How is it we can follow God’s commands on how to deal with situations like this and *still* find ourselves, find each other, heaped into a comment board on a stranger’s web page as we all ask this questions we can’t seem to get an answer to?! “God! WHAT am I supposed to DO?!”

I can wait. I have been waiting. I will continue to wait. And I’m running out of money and credit and no closer to a job than I’ve been since I lost my job in May ‘08. I will continue to wait. Maybe that’s what we’re all supposed to do. But the loss, sacrifice, heart ache, pain, and sadness resulting from the situations mentioned on this page– if waiting is what we’re supposed to be doing, shouldn’t some of those symptoms lessen since we’re doing what we’re called to do?

I will continue to wait.”

This is perhaps the most meaningful comment I’ve read on my blog thus far. This entire blog acts as an organic archive of people’s lives around the world who are struggling, including myself. So it’s immensely profound that someone would make an expression of their thoughts, anxieties, worries, and post it as a comment. As Behnnie writes, ” I pray about it, talk with strong Christians in my life about it, read scripture and meditate on it with my current situation in mind…and still find myself typing my ultimate query and frustration into a Goodle search. Why?!”  I’m sure there’s a thesis dissertation lurking in Behnnie’s writing, just waiting and wanting to be penned. How and why is it that so many people type those exact search words into a search engine, seeking meaning? It’s like using Biblegateway.com and typing in some keywords, praying and hoping for divine intervention or to hear God’s gentle voice. Waiting is so difficult, yet, in many ways, God becomes clearer because of it.

HERE IS THE CONTINUATION OF HER STORY.

I *thought* I was a random visitor, sent here via your friend and mine: Google. But perhaps it was via a more literal Deus ex machina? LOL! The real irony, though, is in the timing of that comment I left on your blog. You see: After 9 months of unemployment I got a job today.

For the past 2+ years (plus summers since high school) I worked for the family business which, recently beset by one unfortunate struggle after another, finally had to close after 12 years as the weight of the crashing economy further burdened our efforts. Scores of people lost their jobs when the business closed, most of them with spouses and children to support. It was a difficult situation all around. Luckily, however, my dad was able to use his connections to find jobs within days, sometimes even hours, for almost every employee who needed the help. Almost every employee except me. I’ve got two degrees, several years’ work experience, and references who’d loan me kidneys, but no employers were interested. If that ain’t a blow to the self-esteem I don’t know what is.

I spent the summer working with my family helping close things down on the business end, dismantling steel case cubicles to be recycled for cash to keep us in groceries, selling off our remaining inventory of pens, staplers, and post-it notes to keep us in fuel; it was a summer I want to forget. Every day was sad. Every day was the end of days. Every day was a reason to think that maybe, just maybe, things would be better if there would be no more to follow.

I began looking for work in earnest as our efforts to finalize the company began to draw to a close in August. I wanted to look sooner, but every day so far had been so filled with work, sadness, and stress that somehow walking into people’s offices brandishing my resume and a smile seemed a near impossibility. And the that work that filled our days? It was work that didn’t pay. Work that made us weep. But we had God. We had each other. And I? I had a few friends. I had naps. I had library dvds. I had more naps…

I faithfully applied for at least two jobs a week (a condition of receiving unemployment checks), but companies were beginning to really realize the gravity of the economic depression so no one wanted to hire until we all had a better grip on what to expect. All told I attended one job fair (if you’ve ever attended a job fair you understand why attending even one is more than sufficient!), signed up with four staffing agencies and one talent agency, registered with countless job sites (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) which I checked religiously, sent emails to everyone I knew, and searched Craig’s List on a daily basis for postings that weren’t scams. I applied for anywhere from 5-15 jobs a week, every week, for 6 months. If there’s any business in this area that doesn’t have my resume, references, and position specific cover letter at this point I’d be heartily surprised!

From these months of effort I netted one follow-up call asking if I knew how to use Power Point, one interview through a staffing service for a job that went to someone else, and one interview last week which I got because a friend works there and put in a good word for me with HR. My deferred student loans start up again in March, my windshield is cracked from end to end, my auto insurance is up for renewal, and I just drew my final unemployment check on Sunday. It totaled $30. Which brings us to today. To a phone call. To a follow up on last week’s interview. To an offer for a job paying $0.46 more per hour than I need to pay my bills. To a job I don’t know how to do yet but will learn faster than I’ve ever learned anything. To a job near my home. To a job with a friend.

Praise the Lord, stranger. After 9 months in a terrible economy: I have a job.

God has always known my needs, always met them. He has provided ways for me to get by financially during my period of unemployment. He has provided me with strength on days I couldn’t bear to get out of bed. He has provided me with peace and encouragement when I was ready to check out. He has provided me with family and friends who love me and who give me the opportunity to love. And now he has provided me, after nearly a year of waiting, with a job. When following gifts like strength, love, and encouragement, the job really does seem the least of those in many ways doesn’t it…

If you’ve followed this at all, you’d be wondering how many Fridays have passed since I first began this blog. I’m not quite sure, but thankfully it’s still on two hands. I have a final interview this afternoon with the hiring managers at an insurance institute, and that’s the best news I’ve had for weeks now. My faith has been tested throughout this unemployment run, and I’m sure there’s more testing to come. I feel anxious about the interview, but a voice at the back of my mind continues to assure me that even if this interview isn’t successful, I am still firmly in the God’s hands and I haven’t been abandoned. God is for us, and if He’s for us, what more can I ask of Him?

The impatience that I’ve felt, accompanied by heavy doses of frustration and helplessness, just goes to show me how dependent I am on God. I can’t explain all of those moments when I’ve felt as though no one in the world would hire me, and as though my immediate future was in vertical descent. Yet, even if it were rapidly spiralling downwards, God would still be there, and sometimes I can misjudge how far I need to fall to realize His sovereignty over my life.

I’m sure there are thousands of husbands or young fathers (or mature ones for that matter) out there in the world with similar questions and worries. I’m unemployed. Who am I now? What am I supposed to do? How will I feed my family if my savings are depleted? How will I pay the rent next month? Where is God in all of this? Am I alone on this?

One of the most reassuring observations I’ve made throughout this period of unemployment has been this: I am not alone. First and foremost, God’s always with me. He has promised to be with me at all times. He never leaves. He’s omnipresent. Second, as a human, I am not in a unique position of unemployment, nor am I the only person in the world who doesn’t have a job. It may feel like it sometimes, and self-pity scrapes the walls of our minds, but truly, I am not alone. Just go to any recruitment office, job fair or expo; visit a coffee shop mid-morning, look around and see very clearly that there are many, many others who are unemployed, on disability, or are unable to work.

This isn’t reason to draw happiness from seeing people less fortunate than you. Not at all. What I’m trying to point out is that sometimes the voice that accuses you of being the only person in the world with an unemployment problem is the same voice that tells you all of the other lies: “You’re unemployable,” “You haven’t accomplished anything in your life,” “You’ll never get a job,” “No one would hire a guy like you.” And that devilish voice could go on and on until you start believing it to be true.

But today’s blog is to drown out that voice. There is a purpose, a job, some kind of work, that God wants us to do. And He’s got it there for us. It may not be glamorous, it may not be executive-class, and it may even seem mundane or useless. But knowing that God gives us all things, we can rest assured that our working lives or the things we do each day can bring glory to God.

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What I’m reading now

"Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel," by Laura Byrne Paquet (Fredericton:Goose Lane Editions, 2007) "The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping malls, and the Search for Home," by Pico Iyer (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2000). "Outliers: The Story of Success," by Malcolm Gladwell (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2008).

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