For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.
How long will you assail a person, will you batter your victim, all of you, as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence. They take pleasure in falsehood; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. (Selah)
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Selah)
Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,
and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.
- Psalm 62
I have a lot of friends who are looking for work right now. The situation has gotten a little better, but not by much. I also had a conversation with someone recently who is too young yet to be in the workforce, but who said, “I just want to be useful.” I think we all want that.
Unemployment can so easily make us feel useless—as if the world doesn’t want us for anything. It can feel like the world is assailing us, battering us into submission. But it doesn’t have to be that way. While we do everything we can do to find a job, we can continue to do ministry.
I wish I’d thought of this the last time I was unemployed. I could have been of so much use! Instead I filed for my three jobs a week, and then I sat around the house collecting unemployment and feeling sorry for myself. If I had it do it all over again, I would have found a ministry that needed help—a food bank, a shelter, a church that was looking for extra hands. There’s a practical side, too: the more human connections we maintain, the more likely we are to find a job!
My last period of unemployment was a field ripe for harvest. God tilled my soil and planted seeds that are still sprouting today. As I prepare to move my family to seminary this summer, I am reminded again and again that it all started with (1) a total stranger saying, “You should be a priest,” and (2) being laid off from my job the very next week. It turned out God was right there in the silence, in the waiting of unemployment. Since then, I’ve learned not to rest so many of my hopes on a steady income. In seminary, there will be very little of that!
Here’s another of my favorite artists, Sufjan Stevens, with a song called “Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid).”