I graduated in 2008—right in the midst of the global financial crisis. That was the year Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed, sparking an international banking crisis. It was known as the Great Recession, and considered to be the most serious since the 1930’s Great Depression.
It took my two years to land a job. During those difficult job hunting years, a friend from church told me that my identity was not in my job. She reminded me that whether or not I had a job and whatever work I did, I was God’s child. Though work would give me fulfilment, dignity, and the ability to earn money, it was not ultimately what defined me. She was right—because four years later, I lost that job! The company folded and all 60 of us were retrenched.
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
My experience has made me re-think the idea of job security. The old expression, “a job for life”, seems like a fairy tale today. In my first job, I saw two CEOs fired on the spot. In my second, my team was reshuffled and I lost a talented colleague overnight. The night before, we were working hard to meet a deadline, even taking turns to sleep on a couch in the office. The next day, he was fired.
Today, many are expecting the economic impact of COVID-19 to be even worse. In Singapore, economists are expecting the country to see its worst recession since Independence. Unemployment has already hit a 1-year high, and job vacancies, a 10-year low. Many businesses have closed down or have had to retrench workers.
Job loss is a real fear. It can cause much anxiety, especially if we’re the breadwinner of the family. Perhaps the hardest part is accepting that all that is happening— like the spread of the coronavirus, the restrictions on businesses, and retrenchments—is totally out of our control. There is absolutely nothing we can do.
It’s in times like these, that we find comfort, hope, and assurance in God.
Lift up Our Eyes to the Mountains
In Psalm 121:1-–2, the psalmist turns his eyes heavenward, because he knows that God is the only person he can look to and rely on when he is in trouble.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The psalm goes on to take heart that God will not let our foot slip because He is watching over us day and night (vv. 3–4).
If you have experienced job loss, or know anyone who has or may be at risk, this is a comforting truth that we can rely on completely.
Knowing that God is watching over us all the time, let us take heart that:
- God is still in control. When our well-being is threatened by external factors that are outside our control, God remains good and faithful. He is there even in our darkest moments, though we may not always sense His presence.
- Our identity is not in our job. Our identity as Christ’s beloved child means we are not defined by what we do. Even when we are stripped of our possessions, career, and achievements we are still cherished and valued by God. He loves us as we are.
- Money serves us, not the other way round. The Bible has much to say about money and stewardship, so this is a good time to plan ahead financially. Perhaps we may need to hold back on spending where we can, such as not buying the new car, or cutting down on our daily lattes. “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20, TLB).
- God gives us a community to help us. We don’t have to walk the journey of job loss alone. The Christian life is rooted in community, which means we can turn to friends in church or elsewhere to stand with us in prayer, to listen to our struggles, and encourage us to keep going.
- God protects those who trust in Him. The sovereign God watches over His children and protects us because He loves us. We may experience hardship as a result of living in a fallen world, but though we may be “struck down”, we are not “crushed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-–10). Let us keep holding firm to the Lord in quiet confidence and trust.
Lord, help me to remember that my identity is in you.
I trust that You will provide and help me through this difficult time.
Your Word says that those who hope in You will never be put to shame.
Remind me that even when I have a job, I work for You and not for men.