I was in the middle of a job search when COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Now I’m at home, trying hard to trust the Lord to provide but deeply worried about my economic prospects. What advice (practical and spiritual) would you give to someone in my situation?
This is a tough situation, and I am sorry you’re having to deal with it. This COVID-19 crisis is creating some unique challenges for many of us. Your situation is certainly not something you could have anticipated, but God is not surprised.
You were in search of greener pastures. Now I imagine you feel lost. Instead of a greener pasture, you are holed up in a holding pattern. Where you sought freedom, you’re now fenced in.
But God is still leading you to greener pastures.
In John 10, Jesus says that he is our Shepherd, and that his sheep hear his voice and follow him (John 10:11, 27). Let’s consider what that means for you.
Jesus Will Provide for You
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:26).
Every meal you’ve eaten, every breath you’ve drawn, has been a gift from God. He has been providing for you, and he promises to continue. Now does that mean that no Christian will ever suffer want and hunger? Of course not. Christians all over the world ache with empty bellies. Does that mean you will not experience financial loss due to COVID-19 shutting the economy down? No.
Jesus is referring to food, but he is also referring to himself. Our bodies need bread to keep functioning, but our hearts need Christ to keep functioning. Jesus is the bread of life, and no job loss, hardship, or sickness can deprive you of him.
I don’t mean to speak past the real concern of financial instability. I have been there, and I know it’s quite stressful. I will get practical in a moment, but for now consider your financial stress against Jesus’s bulletproof promise to feed you with his very body and blood, and thus to provide for you in such a way that you’ll receive endless spiritual blessings.
Jesus Will Protect You
“I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14).
If you examine your financial concerns, you will find a deeper worry underneath them. When we have money stress, we feel desperate and vulnerable. We feel alone, disconnected from the source of our sustenance.
Every meal you’ve eaten, every breath you’ve drawn, has been a gift from God.
Feeling cut off from the flock, feeling exposed—this is right where the enemy wants you. If you are freaked out and stressed out about your derailed job search, you are tired, helpless, and vulnerable. An isolated sheep is prime pickings for a wolf.
I am talking about spiritual warfare here, of course. Beware of the whispers of Satan: You’re a loser. You’ll never find a job. You’re finished.
Don’t believe these lies. When you hear disqualifying thoughts during this time, take them captive and slay them with your hope in Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Remember in Christ you’re an adopted child of God (John 1:12).
Jesus Has a Plan For You
“Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Prov. 19:21).
It is a good thing to make plans and seek to execute them. It was probably wise for you to embark on this job search. You likely sought counsel, prayed, and did your research. You’ve done no wrong. But our plans are little “p” plans; only God’s are PLANS.
Your head is down, looking at your current circumstances; God’s head is up, seeing where he is taking you.
A grazing ewe keeps her head down, focused on eating what she can in the moment. All she sees is what’s in front of her nose. The shepherd, on the other hand, surveys the pasture from the high ground. Staff in hand, he scans for both predators and the greenest grass for his flock. When it’s time to move, the shepherd doesn’t explain to the sheep where they’re going and why. They wouldn’t understand him if he tried. So he drives the flock onward, sometimes through barren patches and briars and rocky ground. They are moving toward a lush place, but it might feel like a death march.
So it goes with you. If your life is hidden in Christ, God’s purpose for your life is ultimately to deliver you to himself for eternal bliss. Your head is down, looking at your current circumstances; God’s is up, seeing where he is taking you.
Now, For Practical Advice
- Be patient. Employers are confused right now, and in my experience economic uncertainty tends to freeze hiring. The good candidates are not discarded, but they are set aside while leaders try to keep the enterprise afloat. If people don’t get back to you quickly, give them grace and don’t get frustrated. They’ve also had their plans upended; they’re probably just scrambling to figure it out.
- Stay in touch with potential employers. Do not bombard the hiring managers, but stay in touch with them. I would check on them personally. How are they doing in this crisis? Can you pray for them? They’re image-bearers of God who need to experience Christ’s love, and while you may not end up working for them, you have an opportunity to bless them by caring about them.
- Develop your skills. Maybe this is a good time to take an online course, get a new designation in your field, or learn a new skill that would make you more marketable. Redeem the time and refine your skills, as this will not only help your résumé, but it will make you more of an asset to the company you eventually join.
- Take care of yourself spiritually and physically. Martyn Lloyd-Jones encouraged young preachers not to focus too much on sermon prep, but rather to prepare their hearts for the pulpit. In the same way, you can prepare yourself spiritually for whatever may come by spending time with the Lord in his Word and prayer. If possible, engage with your local church via livestreams or video calls for small groups and Bible studies. And when you can, exercise. This has a profound effect on mental health, and will help you strengthen yourself as a vessel of the gospel.
- Ask for help. If you’re at risk of missing meals or losing shelter, ask for help! Your church family is a good place to start. We all need a little help sometimes, and it would be a blessing to your brothers and sisters in Christ to care for you in this hard time.
- Consider filing for unemployment. You may qualify for government assistance. You’ll want to start at the federal government’s site for unemployment, then head to your state’s unemployment webpage.
I know it’s tough, but do not despair. Your job search will resume before long, and I hope you will find the job you’re looking for.
No matter what, if Jesus is your shepherd, lusher pastures are ahead. He does not promise prosperity in the bank account, but he guarantees a windfall of joy in his presence now and forevermore.
TGC’s “Thorns & Thistles” column seeks to apply wisdom with practical advice about faith, work, and economics. If you have a question on how to think about and practice your work in a way that honors God, let us know at [email protected].