When an individual is out of work, or a family has seen its retirement or college savings severely reduced, or a town has lost several hundred jobs because companies have closed, it can seem daunting. But to continue to focus on what has been lost is even more detrimental to the prospects of those individuals and communities.
In a passage of Scripture, Jesus lifts the thought of his listeners by characterizing losses in a very different way. He said, "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me" (John 15:1–4, New Living Translation).
Those who feel that they have lost almost everything have not lost the one essential – their Father-Mother God, whose steadfast love will never desert them. A pruned rosebush can look very diminished, and the branches that have been removed will never bloom again. But that is not what a gardener focuses on when he or she looks at that rosebush, anticipating how it has been prepared for the possibilities to come.
Individuals and communities poised for recovery are those that see new possibilities. It's seldom pleasant to get pruned, but there is a big upside. What was unproductive is gone; what is productive in each of us is prepared to be even more productive.
Turning away from what was lost and focusing on the possibilities for what remains brings huge possibilities. Thoughts filled with regret and fear over what was lost deafen a person, while hope and expectation of good enables one to hear the ideas needed to move forward. God is Love, the source of all intelligence, which cares for its creation. Fundamentally, God's ideas are the source of all economic and individual progress. These ideas lead to wealth creation. As they are implemented, there is employment, rewarded by income and development. As individuals realize that their Father-Mother is always at hand, imparting the ideas needed to move forward, they can rest secure.
A number of years ago, I left a good, well-paid, and secure position with the federal government in mid career, while my wife and I had young children. I left my job voluntarily, so I was looking forward – although our future seemed very uncertain at the time. My motive was to better serve God and my fellow man. God blessed that motive in ways far beyond what I anticipated.
One stark fact in communities with high unemployment is that many individuals seem to be competing for a few jobs. The new jobs, not yet created, are the ones that will likely be the more productive. Turning to God, listening, and following His leading each day, will shorten this process. Being employed in using the ideas that God provides today brings its own practical rewards, enabling individual lives and communities to blossom.