Along with 14 million other Americans, we're still dealing with the reality of unemployment around here. This is our third round in the last nine years, and in all honesty, it's been the hardest emotionally and psychologically. Financially we are still surviving ~ it's been almost four months so far. Obviously we can't go on forever without an income, but for now we are ok.
The first time it happened and lived through it I told many people "we survived but we'd never make it a second time." Not exactly a statement of faith or thankfulness, was it? When it happened the second time, I said, "Lord, I was just KIDDING!" And again, our needs were met and we survived. When it happened again this year, I admit I've been pretty stunned. The previous two times set us back financially right at the time of life where we are supposed to be thinking of saving for our retirement years. With the economy in the dire shape it's in, it has been a whole new ball game for my hubby trying to maneuver his way through the job search process. Companies are thread bare with the employees they have, yet they are reluctant to invest in additional staff because of the dismal world-wide economic forecasts.
And so we wait. We wait on the Lord for His provision. We seek to discern His wisdom and direction. We work. Hubby treats every day as if it were a normal work day. He gets dressed and into his office early in the morning and stays there until quit time. He researches, he tweeks his resume, he answers ads, he takes tests, he networks, he applies for positions, and the next day he gets up and does it all over again. So far, the net has caught no real fish.
Last night I read a familiar Bible story that has given me strength for today. It is found in Luke chapter 5. Peter, James, and John, a couple of career fishermen who lived 2000 years ago, were doing what they always did. They worked all night long in the cold and dark from their fishing boats, casting their nets but they kept coming up empty. No doubt discouragement set in. They were already cleaning up their equipment at the end of a fruitless time of labor. But Jesus had His eye on them. He told them to go out into the deeper water and let their nets down. Peter answered him, saying, "Master we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so I will let down the nets."
We all know the rest of the story. The fishing nets were so full they were breaking. Peter had to signal his partners to come and help him. And then it hit him. This man Jesus was more than a teacher. He was one who could perform a miracle in his time of discouragement and need. In fact, Peter was so astonished that he said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" He realized that he was small and sinful compared to this big and mighty God-man.
I don't know what the outcome will be of our present frustration, and yes anxiety of our time of not knowing where our next paycheck will come from. But this I do know: Our story will end well. This same fisherman Peter turned fisher-of-men Peter, wrote these words of hope:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." I Peter 1:3-5
Did you catch that? Because of our merciful God we have a living hope and an inheritance that can never be taken away. Until then, we are shielded by God's power. We do know how our story will end, and it is all good. It's sort of like watching a movie that gets scary and makes your heart beat faster at times...but you know the story ends well, so you can go ahead and endure, even enjoy watching it.
Said another way: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." II Corinthians 4:16-18