19 September 2017

Discouraged Workers Are Always Welcome

Discouraged workers, downcast people and depressed souls are always welcome at JobSeekers.

As I talk to job seekers over the days, weeks and years, I learn about people who are going through a period of depression. The depressed people aren’t telling me; it’s someone else who tells me about them. Oftentimes, the most depressed people don’t attend our JobSeekers meetings.

This concerns me for two reasons: first, if you are staying home on Friday mornings because you’re down, you’re making the problem worse. I’ll say more about this in a minute. Second, I’m concerned because the meetings are so upbeat, you may feel out of place.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:4–7

Friends, discouraged workers, downcast people and depressed souls are always welcome at JobSeekers! I can tell you with 100% certainty that every job seeker in that room on Friday mornings has battled negative thoughts and feelings if they have been looking for a job for 30 days or more. The only difference between you and them is that they may be at a peak while you are in a valley. When you are in the valley looking up, it seems everyone is better off than you. Come to JobSeekers and we will lift you up.

Mood swings come with the territory. Job search is an emotional roller coaster. If you are down, find someone else at the bottom of his or her curve and lift him or her up. I spoke to a job seeker a few days ago who took another job seeker to lunch; both were in a funk before, and now both are in better spirits. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The best way to lift your own spirits is to pick someone else up.

If you get down and stay down, get help. God doesn’t want you there; at least not for long. He will provide resources – including other people – to help you out of the dark hole you are in. Look at what you might be doing to make the problem worse. Examine yourself mentally, physically, socially and spiritually:

1. Mentally.

Read uplifting books. Listen to motivational tapes. Seek wise counsel, even professional help, if necessary. Limit your time on the computer. And, when you work on the following three areas, mental health usually takes care of itself.

2. Physically.

Optimize your diet, rest and exercise. They form the three-legged stool of good health. Depressed people often make the problem worse by changing their habits in these areas for the worse. Eat healthier foods, drink more water, get the proper amount of rest, and exercise more often. You’ve got the time!

3. Socially.

Get out and about. Help someone else. You are making depression worse if you are staying home on Friday mornings – and every other day of the week. Lethargy sets in and depression becomes more and more difficult to overcome.

4. Spiritually.

Admit it. Confess it. Write about it. Pray about it. You’re in good company. David wrote more psalms of lament than anything else. Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet.” Old Job had more trouble than any of us will ever see. Yes, you are in good company; the person sitting next to you has been there too.

Depression is not the problem; it’s a symptom of the problem. You’ve got to figure out what the root cause is. Some say they are having a run of bad luck. You can do a lot to change your luck; it starts by laying your problems at the foot of the cross. Trust in the Lord and work wholeheartedly as God directs you.

Chuck Hodges, pastor at Athens First United Methodist, emphasizes that there’s a difference between joy and happiness. As Christians we are called to be joyful all the time (see the “Rejoice in the Lord always” passage above). We are called to be joyful, but we don’t necessarily have to happy. In fact, if you were happy about being out of work, we may need to talk!

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he instructed them to rejoice in the Lord always; I know from personal experience that “always rejoicing” is tough to do when you are looking for a job. Friends, it is okay to be depressed while you are looking for a job; it is not okay to accept it as your fate. Decide today that, with God’s help, you will not dwell on your present circumstances; you will hope for – search for – the abundant life God has planned for you.

That’s what we do every week at JobSeekers. We rejoice. Always.

I’ve included three pictures from our meeting on 2 November 2012. Mark Hutto came to shares his good news after he landed a great job. He had been through some extremely difficult times in addition to his job search. Tiffany Lust volunteered to help me demonstrate the difference between knowledge and skill. She easily learned the steps to juggle, but couldn’t actually do it. We all fell out laughing. When Marcus Smith introduced himself, he said he wasn’t leaving until he got a good networking referral; he succeeded in seconds when devotional speaker Glen Gould  gave him one.

Dwelling on the abundant life he has in store for you – now that’s something you can be joyful about, even when times are tough! My prayer for all of you is that when you hit the bottom of the joy curve, you will claim this verse – and all of God’s promises – for yourself.

Come to JobSeekers on Friday – especially if you are weary and heavy-laden – and He will lift you up! You will find rest for your souls, hope for your heart, and strength for the week ahead.

Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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