"Times are hard, I can't find work..." The bible On Working

Unemployed men outside a soup kitchen
 in Chicago, 1931.
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

God has been working up to now and Jesus is working too. (John 5:17). God created man to work. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." (Genesis 2:15).

As God told Adam after the Fall, labor is a curse but it is commanded and expected. (Genesis 3). Even before the Fall, God set Adam in the Garden and told him to shepherd it. (The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Gen 2:15). In the very next verse, God said to Adam, "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden," First work, then eat.

Jesus was referred to as "the carpenter" in Mark 6:3. Several of the Apostles were fishermen, and Matthew was a tax-collector. Paul worked ceaselessly. He was a tentmaker and even at times lived with fellow tentmakers. (Acts 18:3).

As Pulpit Commentary says, given our fallen nature "idleness is the parent of many crimes."

We are called to live a quiet life, work with our hands. "...and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you," (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

So what happens if your company downsizes and you're left without a job?
flickr cc, Maia C

This Free Bible Study Guide is a very good study on the topic of unemployment. It begins with a testimony of a Christian in Georgia,
"Life was good working for a major automobile manufacturer. I found myself suddenly unemployed when I was fired because I kept God's Sabbath. I had one small child, and my wife was pregnant with our second. Money was now scarce, but the bills were plentiful. I prayed to God for help. The only job I could find was construction work. Pay was sporadic, and I was away from home a lot. More than once there was no food in the house for my expecting wife and young daughter. But God kept watch on us, as many times neighbors would bring food, or invite them over for breakfast or dinner."

"The construction work dried up, so I took a job with a recycling facility making barely above minimum wage. As grateful for the job as I was, the pay would not cover all my bills. I couldn't afford my car anymore. But once again, God came through. My supervisor discovered that I qualified for an apprentice program, which increased my pay by exactly one dollar more than my car payment! It was almost two years before I got my job back with the automobile manufacturer. But when I got my job back, I also received all of my back pay! Yes, during this trial God always took care of me and my family."

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)

But that doesn't mean that once you've made your request to God, to lay around and wait for God to show up and deliver you a job or a pile of money. It means plea for provision but also go out and beat the bushes for a job.

The Study Guide poses the following question. Where is the first place you should go for help when you become unemployed?

To your Sunday School class? To the church? To Mom and Dad? To the unemployment office? No. To God.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (Psalm 18:6)

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

The Free Bible Study Guide divides the rest of the essay into a series of good questions.

flickr cc, by photologue_np
Why should you turn to God for help?
What attitude should you have while you're unemployed?
How did the patriarch Job react after he lost everything?
What does God expect you to be doing while you're unemployed?
What must you be doing to receive God's blessings?
How will God help you find work?
How will God help you pay your bills while you're unemployed?
What was King David's observation of those who live God's way and trust in Him?

[Excerpts posted by permission, Credit is given to United Church of God, an International
Association (www.ucg.org), authors of Free Bible Study Guide]

Proverbs 19:15 says "Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry."
flickr cc, the half-blood prince

We are to remember to help the weak (Acts 20:35). We are supposed to help real widows (1 Tim 5:3), which just goes to show, even in the very first church, there were some who tried to take advantage of the generosity of others and live on the dole when they were able bodied. (1 Tim 5:1-11). If younger widows are enrolled for temple dole, they learn to be idlers, says the verse in 1 Timothy 5:13.

As for those non-believers who take advantage of the system to be idle, do not envy them. Proverbs 6:6 says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" Therefore, to be a sluggard is UNwise. Do not envy those who instead of earnestly seeking a job, choose to sit around the unemployment office having a party and collecting checks. Would YOU want to be on the angry side of our Holy God?

God always deals with sinners. Do not be surprised when a non-believer does these things. It's what they do...they sin.

If a believer does them, they will reap the consequences of their sin, if they do not repent.

Meanwhile, I draw your attention back to the Georgian Christian's testimony posted at the top. Our wonderful God looks out for us, and He is just as concerned as we are, if not more, when we lose a job. He is not surprised by it, and in fact all things are working to the good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28). It may not feel so, when you're love a job and you're wondering how to feed the kids. But that stomach-clenching feeling of being on the cliff is the perfect time for God to show off. And He will!


Further Reading

God Opened (Or Closed) The Door … The good and bad ways of using “open door” language

Your Attitude During Unemployment

What God promises to the unemployed