“Life goes on, brah / la-la how the life goes on.” The words to that Beatles song have been stuck in my head for days now. I got laid off from my job last week, unexpectedly and shockingly.
I had worked for over 9 years at that job. It was, in fact, my first job out of grad school. It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed what I did. I had nothing but GLOWING performance reviews and praise-filled patient satisfaction reports. So to get kicked to the curb was insulting, surprising and upsetting.
One of the most frustrating parts was that everyone involved got to pass the buck. It wasn’t my director’s fault since the decision was made over her head. It wasn’t even my CEO’s fault since they had brought in an outside consulting firm and that’s who made the decision (nevermind the concept of fighting for a dedicated, loyal, excellent employee and ignoring their suggestion). But you know what, sadly, I get it. It’s the way of the world. Businesses don’t seem to care about their actual human employees anymore, at least not at big corporations like the one I worked at. When the budget gets tight, employees are data and get punched into a formula to improve the bottom line. Nothing personal. (hmmph)
The whole process got me thinking more about suffering and grief. There’s such a tendency to want to offer condolences and empty platitudes to attempt to comfort the grieving. I do it myself when something bad happens to someone I care about. I start looking for the silver lining, saying things like “maybe it’s for the best;” “When a door closes, a window opens somewhere else;” “Trust in God and He will provide.”
However, I don’t remember there being a verse about job security in the Bible. Or even that everything will work out for the best if you simply trust in God. Yes, trusting God may bring peace and comfort, knowing that whatever happens, God is on your side. Yes, there are people in the Bible who got rewarded with success (at least, that’s how the authors interpreted the situation at the time). But there are also a lot of faithful Christians who get the shaft every day. Who get fired, who get sick, who lose a loved one. And it doesn’t work out. I might very well end up finding a new job with worse hours, certainly with less PTO, and worse pay (I had it pretty good where I had been).
I think the best comfort we can reasonably expect is that God is present in our suffering with us. That God has lived a full life on this earth, full of suffering in the person of Jesus, and so God really and truly knows our pain. Jesus was homeless, misjudged, misunderstood, abandoned by those he loved, and, um, brutally killed by the establishment for questioning the status quo. Jesus never got rewarded on this earth with a steady job, a big mansion or a powerful position. God doesn’t promise good endings, but God cares about us and loves us and will sit alongside us in our suffering.
And that is a great comfort. Knowing that the force behind the entire Universe cares about me, personally, and grieves with me in my grief, is beyond moving. Knowing that I am deeply loved and valued, with or without a secure job, with or without material success or even successful relationships, is the bedrock of my identity. And nothing circumstantial can change that. So, it will “all work out,” because no matter what, I am loved, I have value, and I am living a life abundant.