The recession is here. We knew it was coming, but the ball is definitely now in motion. As we enter the second month of 2023, companies such as Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Cisco, Coinbase, DoorDash, Goldman Sachs, HP, IBM, Intel, Lyft, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP, Spotify, Stripe, Twitter, and Vimeo have all announced layoffs. The following eight companies account for nearly 67,000 employees laid off in 2023 so far:
- Amazon 18,000 employees
- Goldman Sachs 3200 employees
- Google 12,000 employees
- IBM 3,900 employees
- Meta 11,000 employees
- Microsoft 10,000 employees
- Salesforce 8,000 employees
- Spotify 600 employees
When a person loses their job, life changes; there is no doubt about it. I was part of a big layoff in 2009 with the Great Recession, where over 3000 employees were laid off from one organization in one geographical location. At the time, I was a young married mother. I held the insurance benefits for the entire family and felt much responsibility to continue providing for my family the best I could. We ended up having to leave the town where we were born and raised, the town with all of our family and friends nearby. We relocated 500+ miles away to a place where we knew no one and had to start over. Some of my children stayed back, and some went with me. The layoff literally separated my family!
I remember the angst I felt during those months. The layoff was announced in June 2009, and we relocated in December 2009. I was desperately applying to hundreds of jobs. However, the people that were laid off alongside me also had similar skills and we were all competing for the same jobs.
In times of loss, the worry, stress, and insecurity are all real and should not be discounted. The feelings a person experiences with job loss can be overwhelming. My worry went directly to questions. Without income, how will we pay our bills? How will we put food on the table? How will we take care of our basic necessities? Some may question if God has abandoned them or if He is punishing them for some reason. However, we see example after example in the Bible where bad things happen to good people. It’s normal, and I believe it gives us a chance to mature in our relationship with Christ.
Let’s dig into scripture to find out how to be faithful in unemployed times.
First, I believe that God has our best interests at heart. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The announcement of a layoff is not the end of the world. It is temporary. It may seem like the biggest issue in one’s life at the moment, but please realize that it is temporary.
In my situation, I moved with my 1 ½-year-old baby boy and 11-year-old daughter to Iowa in the middle of one of their biggest snowstorms. My husband and other children stayed in Kentucky. It took about six months for my husband and oldest son to join us in Iowa as they had to get the house sold and finish his freshman year of high school. Our two older daughters stayed with their other parents (we’re a blended family).
I remember our drive on December 28, 2009, like it was yesterday. I got about 20 minutes outside of town and had to pull over to puke. My nerves were getting the best of me, and I felt totally out of control. I doubted my decision and questioned if I was making a mistake by uprooting and disrupting our family like that. However, I needed income, and we needed benefits. I really saw no other way.
Throughout those six months before leaving, we prayed. We prayed as we had never prayed before. We asked God for direction, wisdom, and guidance. Matthew 21:22 reads, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” I can still remember the doors divinely opening and shutting throughout that season as I applied to hundreds of jobs. There were initially three possibilities for an offer. One by one, the doors closed until there was one left open, and that is what we took.
Now, 14 years later, I can look back at those initial months, even years, where our lives were completely turned upside down from being laid off from work and confidently say that it was a blessing. Had that meeting in June 2009 not happened, I am sure our lives would have turned out differently.
God’s plan is not always our plan. In Garth Brooks’ famous song, Unanswered Prayers, he sings,
Sometimes I thank God
for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’
To the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
‘Cause some of God’s greatest gifts
are unanswered prayers
Isaiah 55:8-9 supports the idea that God’s plan is not always the same as our plan. When we submit to His authority and realize that God is in control and we are not in control, a mindset shift can happen that lightens the stress load, eases the burden, and empowers a person to place their worry and fear in the inbox of God. I highly encourage taking time to reflect on your plan and consider that God may have a plan that is bigger and better than you can imagine. Isaiah 55:8-9 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
One lesson that God has been teaching me since I was laid off from work in 2009 is to trust him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Trusting God means that I give all of my everything to Him, and I ask Him to have His way with it. Literally, give it all away.
Matthew 6:9-13 is the Lord’s Prayer. I had said this prayer thousands of times before but never really looked at the words. However, the prayer states: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
It is now my desire that God have His way with all things in my life and the lives of my family. He is much better at directing our steps than I am. I want to truly be submissive and obedient to Him. I wholeheartedly want to follow Him all of the days of my life (Psalm 23).
A second lesson that God has been teaching me is that He is for me, not against me (Romans 8:31). He will provide for you and for me. He will take care of us. My idea of how someone will take care of me and provide for me does not always look like the way God takes care of me and provides. But I am constantly amazed by His abundant blessings. And I can truly reflect on the past 14 years and see where God has shown up in life in big ways.
As we continue into this season of uncertainty about employment, I want to encourage each of us to trust God. He loves us unconditionally, and He wants the best for us. He wants us to be faithful and not give up hope. Hang in there. If you don’t have a support group or someone you can talk to and pray with during these trying times, I also want to encourage you to connect with your Christian brothers and sisters who will walk with you through this season of life. Remember, it’s temporary!
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