Long-term Unemployment: Lessons Learned from King David

As Steve and I continue on this nearly three-year journey of unemployment, I lean on lessons learned from the trials and tribulations of David as he awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would reign over Judah.

As a boy, David was anointed by Samuel to succeed Saul as the king of Judah.  David was a full grown man with wives and children when he ascended to the throne.  Quite a few years passed between the promise of kingship and the fulfilment of that promise.  

The years of waiting were comprised of great victories and great hardships.  David faced and killed the giant Goliath and was appointed a commander in Saul’s army. He led the army in many battles with tremendous success.  Yet, Saul became increasingly jealous of David and sought to kill him.  David was forced to hide in caves and live the life of a fugitive for many years.  Still, he continued to believe God.  He could look forward to the day when this difficult phase of his life would end and he would return from exile to rule over his nation.

It is easy for me to get discouraged about the state of our economy and the lack of job prospects for Steve.  Two years and nine months is a long time to be unemployed and there is no end in sight.  In these moments, I reflect on the trials that David went through and the place he arrived at when the trials were over.

1) David’s troubles were not of his own making.  David did not seek to become the king of Judah.  He served King Saul and honored him.  Yet, he found himself running from Saul.  Likewise, Steve’s unemployment is not the result of any action or decision on his part.  He is a victim of a poor economy and bad decisions made by others.

2) David had victories in the midst of his hardships. While a fugitive, David continued to lead an army and had great success.    Despite the loss of the majority of our income, we have learned to be wiser with our money and have been victorious over credit card debt.

3) God’s hand of blessing was on David during this time.  God supplied David with food and shelter, and David married two of his wives and fathered several children during this time.  God continues to bless our family, as well. Our family has grown in the last three years, with the addition of a daughter-in-law and our first grandchild; a second grandchild is on the way.

4) David became discouraged at times.  In spite of David’s close walk with the Lord, he was human.  He grew weary of the struggle and faced discouragement.  David poured out his frustrations in psalms.  In Psalm 55, David wrote, “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.  My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me.  Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.” (verses 2 – 4)  We know that we will have moments of discouragement.  In those moments, we need to take our eyes off our problems and focus our attention on God and the blessings He has bestowed on us.

5)  David trusted God.  The same man who cried out in despair also wrote, “I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.  I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name will I hope, for your name is good.” (Psalm 52: 8, 9)  Our hope is in God.  Our lives are in His hands, and our trust is in Him, for He is good.

6) David’s troubles did not last forever.  Although David was a fugitive from Saul for years, there came a day when Saul died and David was crowned King of Judah.  David knew that God had promised him the kingdom and he looked forward to the day that God would fulfill that promise.  God has a plan for our lives.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “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.”  Steve and I are at peace knowing that God has a wonderful plan for our lives.  Even in the midst of this trial, we can see His hand of blessing and His plans being fulfilled.

If you are in the midst of a trial that seems like it will never end, please know that God has a wonderful plan for you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Suffering and trials are part of God’s plan to help us focus on the important issues in life and to learn to depend on Him fully.  I pray that you will turn to God in your moments of despair and allow Him to fulfill his purposes for you.

Unemployment, Cancer, Grandchildren, and Trusting God Through It All

Cancer and unemployment are the difficult things in my life right now, and grandchildren are the phenomenal blessings.  Through these ups and downs, I am learning to trust God and am reminded that he is with me through all the circumstances of life.

A year and a half ago, Steve and I were blessed with the news that our first grandchild was expected.  That joyful announcement came at a time when we really needed some good news.  We were approaching the first anniversary of Steve being laid off, and his parents’ health was of great concern.  The expected baby was a reminder of God’s great love for us. 

The intervening months were stressful as Steve’s unemployment stretched into a second year and his father passed away.  Whenever I felt like life was just too difficult, my spirits would be lifted be the mere thought that a baby was on the way.  Daniel’s arrival ten months ago brought great joy to our lives.  We love that little boy with all of our hearts.  We thank God daily that he is a healthy, happy child.

About six weeks ago, we learned that my sister has breast cancer. Although they caught it early and the tumor was rather small, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and has been diagnosed as an aggressive form. Fortunately, the cancer has not spread to her organs. She is facing months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  It will be a difficult time. I will do all that I can to support her, and I pray that she will experience God’s presence in a new and powerful way as she deals with her illness.

My sister’s cancer diagnosis, along with Steve’s continued unemployment—now well into its third year—can be a heavy burden to bear.  The past few weeks, these burdens have felt overwhelming at times. I know I have to trust God for my sister’s health and my husband’s job situation.  He is faithful to send bits of encouragement to remind me of his faithfulness.  For example, one day last week the number of page views of my blog was unexpected much higher than normal.  I was delighted.  The next day was even better, setting a record for my highest number of views in one day.  It wasn’t a big thing, and it didn’t change any of the circumstances of my life.  However, God used this small thing to remind me of his love for me and to help me feel relevant.

I called my sister today to share with her some unexpected good news Steve and I received yesterday.  She shared with me that the original diagnosis of Stage 1 cancer had been overly optimistic; after her lumpectomy, the cancer was reclassified as Stage 3.  God knew that I would receive this discouraging news today, so yesterday he sent us the good news another grandchild is on the way. 

Little Daniel will be getting a cousin in December.  The new little one is due on December 27th.  A Christmas baby to look forward to!  It doesn’t improve my sister’s health or increase my husband’s opportunities for gaining employment.  It does, however, remind us that we are blessed and have a great future ahead of us.  We will continue to trust God for the strength to face each day with grace, knowing that his love for us is immeasurable.