I hadn’t heard the phone ring, nor the conversation taking place in the other room. My husband, Jim, works from home, and he was back in his office after a few days off from Christmas. I was sitting in my chair in the living room when I suddenly looked up. Jim was standing right in front of me. He said the words no one ever wants to hear, “I’ve been laid off.” After almost ten years with the company, and many recent changes being made as they merge with another company, his number had come up. Time for him to go as he had seen so many go before him. We can’t say as we were shocked. But still, it’s never the news you want to hear.
Jim then began the process of cleaning out his things, getting them ready to send back to the company. God had taken me to the verse in Colossians 4:2, and I knew it was the verse that would be good to camp on through this. It talks about being devoted to prayer, being watchful and thankful. This is not the first time we have been in this position job-wise. God has seen us through so many ups and downs in life, we know we can depend on Him. We know we can rejoice “in” our circumstances, even when we are not rejoicing “about” them. That little word “in,” as compared to the larger word “about,” makes a big difference. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) This life is challenging. Things happen that we don’t like and wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. But we can rejoice, because we know eternally, this is just a very small blip on the radar.
Jim and I spent some time in Philippians 4, reading about rejoicing. As we read and prayed through it, we knew rejoicing is where our focus should be…not on the job loss…not on the unknown…but on the known promises we have in our Lord, Jesus. We don’t want to be anxious for anything, although the temptation is certainly there. There’s never a good time to be out of work. But we were thankful the news came just after Christmas.
On day two of this news, Jim’s phone rang in his office again. I could hear Jim this time. He was talking to a man he used to work with. Jim thought he was calling because he had already heard the news. He hadn’t, so the timing of his call showed us God’s faithfulness. This ex-coworker had moved on to the new company that Jim’s old company was merging with. He was calling just to touch base with Jim. When Jim told him the news, he put in a phone call that very well could lead to a new job. It left us both shaking our heads in amazement with how fast God was hearing the prayers going up toward Heaven, and already raining down the blessings.
Our son, Chris, and his wife, Holly, gave us a wooden plaque for Christmas. It says, “Pray Toward Heaven…But Row Toward Shore.” With our last name being “Shore,” we always get a kick out of finding things like that. We will be Searching And Noticing the Divine as we go through this season…one small miraculous “row” at a time. Stay tuned!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:2-6 (NIV)