By Lori Hatcher, Crosswalk.com
I was surprised when I heard my husband’s car pull into the driveway only an hour after he’d left for work one Monday morning. When he walked through the door, our daughters, 5 years old and 18 months, ran to meet him. But his face didn’t light up like it usually did at their enthusiastic greeting.
“Why are you home?” I asked. “Are you sick?”
“No,” he said, eyes wide with fear and disbelief. “They let me go.”
Today, after 34 years of marriage, we’ve lived through this scenario twice. Both experiences have taught us valuable lessons and demonstrated God’s love and care for us.
Here are 10 ways God provided for us when my husband lost his job.
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1. He provided peace.
The first time my husband became unemployed, he was the primary breadwinner for our young family. As we considered the implications of living without 80 percent of our income, the questions swarmed our minds like angry hornets.
How are we going to make our mortgage? What will we do with no health insurance? Will we lose our car? Our house? Will our children go hungry?
Our anxious hearts beat faster than a woodpecker on a tree. But then the precious voice of the Holy Spirit whispered a promise into our troubled souls: “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches and glory” (Philippians 4:19). Peace settled over us like a blanket. We knew God’s Word was true, and whatever happened, we could trust him.
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2. He provided friends.
Proverbs 17:17 reminds us, “A friend loves at all times.” This has been especially true during times of sickness, grief, and unemployment. I smile when I think about how our friends rallied around us as David’s time of joblessness continued.
They prayed with us, shared job prospects, brought meals, and left anonymous bags of groceries on our front porch. Knowing how hard it is for a man to be unemployed, David’s friends called to check on him, shared words of encouragement, and invited him to hang out. Sisters in Christ invited me out to lunch, asked me how things were going, and listened. And they always generously picked up the tab.
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3. He provided comfort.
Invariably, when I was down, David was up, or vice versa. If he was struggling spiritually, God would lead me to an encouraging devotion or passage of Scripture to share. When I was battling fear, David would take my hand, pray, and remind me of truths I knew but needed to be reminded of.
It’s been my experience that when we are most willing to listen to God, we hear his voice all around us. As the days turned into weeks and no job was forthcoming, God continued to provide comfort through our daily Bible reading, our pastor’s sermons, and the prayers of others.
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4. He provided times of refreshment.
Knowing how discouraging it can be sitting at home filling out job application after job application, a kind friend offered us the use of his mountain home for a long weekend. The change of scenery and break in our routine lifted our spirits almost immediately. We took long walks, prayed together, and strategized.
One morning, however, discouragement weighed heavy on me. I set out by myself to walk and talk with God. “Lord,” I prayed, “this unemployment has gone on much longer than we expected. We’re getting weary. I don’t know how much more of this we can take. This morning, with all my heart, I’m asking you for a breakthrough.”
I finished my walk and returned to the mountain house. Two hours later David received a text from a friend he hadn’t seen in months. Are you still looking for a job? There’s an opening where I work. I’d be glad to recommend you.
When we returned home, he went in for an interview. The company hired him immediately and he’s worked there ever since.
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5. He provided materially.
The first thing we did when David lost his job was to eliminate every unnecessary expense from our budget. We were ruthless. After we slashed the budget, however, we were still left with way more expenses than my part-time salary and our savings could cover. We learned the power of praying “Give us this day, our daily bread.”
One Sunday an elder at church handed us a check from anonymous giver. Other times I’d find sales and coupons that would allow me to shop for a fraction of what I normally paid. David worked odd jobs. Our doctor gave us samples of some of our prescriptions and connected us with discount programs and assistance funds. A mechanic friend worked on our car for free. Neighbors shared hand me down clothes for the girls.
During both bouts with unemployment, no bill went unpaid. To this day, I can’t explain how. The cumulative effect of generous gifts, unexpected provision, part-time work, and God’s loaves and fishes multiplication provided everything we needed.
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6. He provided promises.
Some days our faith muscles were strong, and we’d carry the burdens of joblessness easily. Other days we felt like a marathon runner approaching the finish line only to discover that someone had moved it 10 miles in the distance.
We learned the most effective way to battle discouragement – with prayer and Bible reading.
“Lord,” we’d pray, “we’re discouraged and scared right now. We know you’re at work, even when we can’t see it. Please give us a promise we can cling to.”
Then we’d open our Bibles. One day we read about how God provided for a widow and her son in 2 Kings 4. Another day we read about how Christ commended the poor woman who continued to give to God’s work despite her poverty. My favorite promise came in the story in John 6:5-6.
Thousands of people surrounded Jesus. They’d been listening all day and were weak and hungry. When the disciples brought their overwhelming need to Jesus, he turned the situation back on them. “Where will we find bread for all these people?” he asked.
Then Scripture cracks the curtain on the reason behind Jesus’ ludicrous question: “... but this he said to test them, because he knew what he was going to do.” Through the story of the feeding of the 5,000, God reminded us that if he could feed 5,000, he could easily feed our family of four.
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7. He provided opportunities to share our faith.
When we’re in the midst of a trial, it’s hard to imagine how God can use our struggles for good. My husband and I have learned, however, that there’s more at stake than just us. Others are watching.
During our first unemployment, I attended an Experiencing God Bible study. Every week we’d meet, and every week the women would ask me if David had found a job.
“Not yet,” I’d say, “but, somehow, God has taken care of us for another week.” Then I’d share an answered prayer or unexpected provision. Telling how God continued to meet our needs bolstered my faith and helped the women know how to pray for us.
I didn’t find out until years later that he had used our joblessness to grow someone else’s faith, too.
I ran into Deborah at a homeschool book sale. “How are you and Steve doing?” I asked.
“We’re doing well,” she said. ���Steve lost his job recently, but I know God’s going to take care of us. I remember when David lost his job. You’d come in every week and tell us how God had met your needs. I figure if he did it for you, he’ll do it for us as well.”
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8. He provided opportunities to trust him.
I remember the darkest day of David’s first unemployment. He’d woken up violently ill, our car’s engine needed replacing, and our health insurance was about to expire. It seemed unlikely he could get in to see a specialist before his coverage lapsed, and he couldn’t job hunt because every time he stood up, he threw up.
“God,” I prayed, “I’m overwhelmed. There are so many broken parts of our life right now that I don’t even know how to pray. Help. Just help.”
I cried. I prayed. I cried some more. Then I left it with the Lord.
Later that morning, a friend who owned a used car lot called to see how we were doing. I shared the dismal news about our car. “Let my mechanic take a look at it,” he suggested, and made arrangements to have it towed to his lot. A few hours later he called with good news. “The engine is fine,” he said. “All it needed was a distributor. It’s up and running. I’ll drop it off at your house tonight. No charge.”
The next morning a nurse from David’s doctor’s office called to say a patient had cancelled at the last minute and could he come in. They fast tracked him for diagnostic tests before his insurance ended and discovered a condition that could be easily managed with medication. During the entire time our family was without insurance, no one got seriously sick or hurt.
While our “broken life” didn’t get put back together immediately, it wasn’t too broken after all. The Master Repairman was in control.
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9. He provided a pattern for others to follow.
A year after my husband’s second job loss, the company my son-in-law worked for folded. With two small children and a baby on the way, their situation was even more challenging than anything we’d ever experienced. Still, we could say with confidence, “God can and will provide for you. He did it for us.”
Our son-in-law’s unemployment lasted almost six months, and during that time my daughter’s pregnancy became especially difficult. Because her husband wasn’t working, he was able to care for their two young daughters while she rested. In between filling out online job applications, he helped with cooking and cleaning until her health stabilized.
Just a month before their third child was born, he got an excellent job in the field of his choice. Looking back, they consider his time of joblessness a blessing. Because they had practiced good financial stewardship, set aside money in an emergency fund, and kept their debt to a minimum, they were able to survive without borrowing money or missing a single payment.
Like us, they can testify how God provided for them in a multitude of ways. Because of their experience, they can encourage others going through similar challenges. Both our families learned the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
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10. He provided an opportunity to reap the benefits of sound financial stewardship.
Early in our marriage we attended a class on biblical money management. We learned to live within our means, avoid debt, save for what we wanted instead of borrowing, and give generously to God’s work.
These habits didn’t spare us from job loss, but they did position us to have a better chance to survive it. Because we had lived modestly and had little debt, our financial crisis was much less catastrophic than if we had accumulated a boatload of obligations.
In our 34 years of marriage, we’ve learned that you don’t prepare for a crisis the day it happens. You lay the foundation for success years before.
Regardless of the financial decisions you’ve made in the past, today is a new day.
If you’re working, do everything you can to get out of debt. Cut corners until you’ve eliminated all but your mortgage and maybe a car payment. Save the equivalent of 3-4 months’ salary in case you find yourself unexpectedly unemployed or out of work. Mary Hunt’s Debt Proof Living is an excellent resource to get you started. Seek God’s direction for how to spend and save your money, and obey what he tells you to do.
If you or your spouse is unemployed, take courage. God sees your needs. He knows your concerns. He’s able to provide for you in ways you can’t imagine.
Go to him in prayer. Surrender your situation to him. Ask him to reveal anything within your control that might be hindering you from getting a job. Seek wise, godly counsel, and make whatever changes necessary to minimize your expenses. Every day, open his Word and ask him to speak to you. Claim the promises you find there, and end your time with thankfulness.
Surviving unemployment takes sacrifice, creativity, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make it through. While our family’s times of joblessness haven’t been my favorite chapters in our life, they have helped us grow in faith, realize what’s important, and minister to others. Best of all, they’ve taught us that a job is not our provider. God is.
Lori Hatcher is a blogger, inspirational speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. She’s also Gigi to three tiny humans. A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).
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