On the cover of The New York Times magazine is a man in khakis. The headline reads: "This man used to make $300,000 a year. Now he's selling khakis" (Apr. 13).
Halfway around the world, Awal, a former officer in the Iraqi Republican Guard, has no work and not much hope. "The older generation, he believes, will be overlooked in the future of the country. 'No one asks us what we want or who we might choose to lead us,' he says. 'We are not important to anyone. Shame' " (Monitor, May 5).
I know what it's like to feel unimportant. When I was abruptly laid off from my job a couple of years ago, I grappled with hurt, uncertainty, and fear. But I also found through prayer that there was a loving God who healed the hurt and guided me in the right direction.
That's why there is something within me that rebels at the idea that any of God's children - whether they're my next-door neighbors or people living across the ocean - can be left out or forgotten or discarded.
Things may seem lonely, hopeless. But I discovered that the darkness, the fear, the uncertainty, can't change God's love for me or for any of His children. His love doesn't fluctuate nor does it depend on how the economy is doing or on which political party is in power. Jeremiah, an Old Testament prophet of the Bible, wrote: "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3).
God, Love, has created each of us with a purpose, with something beautiful and good to give - something that the world needs. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote: "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 258).
Our worth as God's children doesn't stop even if our career or job has changed or ended. God is the One who made us, and it doesn't make sense that God would need us for only a limited amount of time and then forget about us. God's children are not disposable; they are always useful.
Being laid off can be a tough experience. But it can also be a time of progress if we are willing to listen to God for His wisdom and guidance. Mrs. Eddy wrote: "Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pgs. 149-150).
Sometimes I felt as though I didn't have enough humility to hear God's direction. Other thoughts and feelings competed for my attention. But through struggles and prayer, I became more willing to listen quietly for God's guidance. The Bible says: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5, 6).
I realized that I was able to move forward with a career that I had been yearning to commit to more fully.
I learned that no matter how devastated I felt at certain times during this experience, God had never abandoned me. He was there supporting and strengthening me each step of the way. I did, however, need to be willing to let go of my own plans and yield to God's direction. Sometimes my idea of what should happen and His guidance didn't coincide. But the more I stopped trying to run things myself and instead accepted God's will, the more peace and clarity I felt - and the more quickly I was able to move forward.
Each one of God's children has a unique mission to fulfill. This mission isn't useful one day and unnecessary the next. As we look to God for direction, He will guide us to where we can be of the greatest service.
For it is God who is at work
within you, giving you
the will and the power
to achieve his purpose.
Philippians 2:13 (J.B. Phillips)