Never before (at least in 100 years or so) has the world shut down like this. By the grace of God, our family still has some income streams and hasn’t been seriously affected by the lockdown (at least from a financial perspective).
However, in the last four years, I’ve worked for three companies that, due to financial hardship, had to let me (and many others) go. This was extremely painful. To not simply experience it once, but to have it happen multiple times in quick succession. Not to mention the fact that we have 5 kiddos and due to child labor laws 😏, they’re still unable to work (they’re all under the age of nine).
I say this because I know what it’s like to face unemployment. And I know what it’s like to face it with a family. And I know what it feels like when things don’t get better right away, or after a month, or after six months, or even after a year. It grates on your soul. It wears on your heart. It dampens your spirit, and at times extinguishes your very will to live.
Often when we get desperate, we look for a quick way out. We hustle. We scrounge. We scrap. We claw.
But when you lose your job, there’s not always a quick way out. You have to apply to new jobs. And apply. And keep applying. And apply some more. At one point (after my first job loss in 2016) I added up the numbers, and over the course of a year, I had literally applied to over 500 jobs and had about 50 interviews, and still hadn’t found a new job.
It’s not that I wasn’t talented. It’s not that I didn’t have a good resume or portfolio. It’s simply that the chips weren’t falling when I needed them to.
But oddly enough, after the most recent job loss I faced (in 2019), I started a new job within 38 days. Yes, I once again applied like a madman to as many positions as I could find, but this time the turnaround was quicker.
I don’t know why. I attribute it mainly to God having mercy on me and my family, since we’d just gone through financial ruin two years prior. But I can’t say the exact reason. It was a combination of hard work, good fortune, being in the right place at the right time, and mostly – just having a God who loves us and takes care of us.
Why do I say all of this?
Because there are literally millions of people in America who are newly unemployed at this moment. They’re facing the same fears, the same pain, the same hopelessness, the same desperation, and the same struggle that we faced three times in four years.
And all I would say is this: If you’re around someone who’s lost their job, please help them in any way you can. Even giving them $20 in an envelope. Or one bag of groceries. Or some gift cards to buy gas. Anything and everything helps. When you’re down on your luck, even the littlest gifts are like flashes of sunlight amidst of an ever-growing expanse of black clouds. Of course if you’re able to give more, please do so. You have no idea how much it helps.
For those who have lost their jobs, I don’t have some fancy cliché or magic formula to help get you back on your feet. In many ways it’s just a perseverance game. You have to keep applying. You have to keep looking. You have to be creative. (At one point we did Uber, AirBNB, tried selling products online, and anything else that would bring in some cashflow until we landed something more permanent.) I realize some of those options are limited now with the virus, but there are other avenues to be creative (grocery delivery, restaurant delivery, selling goods online, etc).
I’m grateful that some businesses are starting to re-open, and people are slowly getting back to work. But once again, if you know anyone struggling with unemployment, just help. It doesn’t have to be much. But I would say this: it does need to be tangible. Saying you’ll pray for someone doesn’t really help a whole lot.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”1 John 3:17
So give. Give what you can. Help where you can. (And if you can’t help, that’s okay too.) Just know that any amount you give makes a massive difference. The very next verse after the one I just quoted says this:
“Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)