One's heart naturally goes out to the workers at firms like Lucent, CNN, and AOL, DaimlerChrysler, and others that have been announcing large layoffs during the past weeks. Few people enjoy being forced to search for a new job, and when so many in the same industry are out looking for work at the same time, an additional layer of anxiety is added to the mix. Will there be enough jobs for everyone?
Hearing the size of some of these layoffs, I was reminded of an incident in Jesus' ministry (see Luke, chap. 9). After King Herod beheaded John the Baptist, thousands of people who had revered John were shocked and deeply troubled. The Bible account states that they sought out Jesus and went to him for comfort and reassurance. He was out in the wilderness and spoke with the people for three days.
The dark shadow of Herod's reign was lifted as they heard more about the kingdom of God, the power and presence of God that was with them at that very moment, as it is with us now. Then the time came for the people to leave. And Jesus turned to his disciples and said he wanted them to feed these people before they left for their homes.
The disciples were dumbstruck. There were thousands of people there. They were in the wilderness. There weren't any grocery stores nearby, no corner delis or bodegas. In fact, after all the time they had spent in the wilderness, all they could find were five loaves and a few dried fish.
Now I thought about this, because as some people prepare their resumes and send them out, reports may come back saying, "Well, there are 10,000 people looking for jobs, but there are only a handful of openings right now." And like the disciples, we might be overwhelmed by those reports and find ourselves throwing the doors wide open to fear and discouragement.
But Jesus wasn't dismayed for a moment. He had been speaking to the people about the reign of God, the triumph of good over evil, the fact that God's love was present and in action here on earth at that very moment. It was inconceivable that there wouldn't be enough good, and enough food, available for everyone there.
He told the disciples to have everyone sit down. Then he took hold of the food the disciples had found, and he gave thanks. What did he give thanks for? That he would be able to feed ten to fifteen people? No way. He had to be giving thanks that the Father of all had enough bread, enough of that daily bread he spoke of in his prayers, to feed everyone there. God's goodness was and is available to all.
So he broke off some of that bread - explained more to the disciples about the unlimited goodness of God - and had them share what they had with the others. And he kept doing that until everyone was fed, and everyone was full. They all experienced the goodness of God. And everyone today who has been laid off can experience the goodness of God as well.
Today, you and I can turn to God and begin giving thanks that our life, our future, is in the hands of a good God. The same activity of divine Love that cared for us yesterday will continue caring for us today. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, learned that this was true, and wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Spirit duly feeds and clothes every object, as it appears in the line of spiritual creation, thus tenderly expressing the fatherhood and motherhood of God" (pg. 507).
As much as it seems that my life and yours is in the hands of the economy or a particular company, it is actually in the hands of God. A living God. A good God. Regardless of the dire predictions one might read, hear from the grapevine or from the offices of human resources, people can count on finding the opportunity they need. Life comes from God, and there is ample good for all.
God's tender care doesn't desert us when our need is greatest. We can discover that it's even more evident when we feel we're in the wilderness and everything argues against our success. So, we can turn quietly to God to hear His assurance, "I am still with you, and there is plenty of good to go around."
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society