“Although it might not look very hopeful right now, this could be an opportunity in disguise.”
COVID-19 has been a job killer. Being told your services are no longer needed can lead to fear, depression and financial problems. And potentially, holiness.
“Our holy place,” a priest that I know calls it, where life gets real and we encounter God. Unable to relieve our own suffering, we surrender from the world and seek his comfort and guidance in a deeper way.
God has allowed a pandemic during our lifetime. We do not have to sing its praises, but we can still sing the praises of God, just as Job of the Old Testament did: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). And St. Paul too: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8).
In 1989, my husband Mark was laid off from his news reporting radio job in Kalispell, Montana. I was pregnant with our fourth baby. It was unwelcomed news, but we did something that changed the course of our lives. We said: Okay, God. For the first time in our married life, we went from a shallow type of prayer to telling God: We accept whatever your will is for us. We did, however, make a request: To live in a good place to raise our children and where we would grow spiritually.
With one month left of unemployment, a radio news director called from Bismarck, North Dakota, as a result of a mutual business acquaintance who had recommended Mark. Bismarck was not a place either of us were interested in, but we sensed this was from God. Thirty years later, we have no doubt. It was a good place to raise our 10 children and probably the very reason we had 10 — due to our spiritual growth here.
Another example of a blessing from job loss is my brother Mike Maguire, in Evansville, Indiana. When he lost his TV meteorologist job many years ago, it was the worst day of his life. The very next day was his best day. Mike was dreading the future when his two boys would enter school. They would be asleep when he came home late from work so he would become mostly just a weekend father. Once the job was gone, however, he realized, so was that problem. Mike soon became a successful trader in commodities.
Conquering Our Fears
Teresa Tomeo author and host of the radio program, Catholic Connection on EWTN and co-host of EWTN TV’s The Catholic View for Women was handed a box full of her things from her desk one day, when working as a TV reporter in Detroit. She had become the victim of the TV news rating wars and the station was ready to try out another pretty face.
Depression was added to the stress of an already struggling marriage. Not overnight, but soon, Tomeo dropped to her knees and surrendered everything to God. His grace entered her life and marriage so that today, Teresa is again at the top of her game but this time, it centers around God and her Catholic faith.
In her newest book, Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest, Tomeo addresses job loss and offers a holy perspective, Scripture, and comforting prayers and resources. “We will always have problems,” she wrote, “but can truly conquer them, along with our fears by going deeper in our relationship with God. … As tough as the situation is right now, this time of suffering could end up being for you the means to a real, long-lasting, positive change.”
Tomeo reminds us of the story in the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus calmed the storm on the sea of Galilee. “The waves that were crashing over the side of their tiny fishing vessel caused them to fear for their lives, even though they had the Creator of the universe sitting right next to them,” she wrote.
“Losing your job can be frightening and emotionally debilitating,” Tomeo agreed. “I know. I’ve been there on the unemployment line, and more than once.” Her advice includes not to be afraid to reach out for help, including spiritual guidance, emotional support, and financial assistance.
“Begin on your knees, asking God to guide you,” she said. “Although it might not look very hopeful right now, this could be an opportunity in disguise. Be open to what God may have in store for you. It may be bigger and better than anything you’ve ever dreamed of.”
While taking steps to investigate and receive financial support, Tomeo encourages people to take time to pray, reevaluate, and to regain your confidence.
She also suggests volunteering while you look for work. “Studies show that volunteering can reduce stress, reduce the risk of depression, and help us stay mentally and physically fit,” she said. “In other words, you get a lot more than you give.” Tomeo also suggests stepping out of your professional comfort zone and be open to how your talents and gifts can be applied while continuing to seeking to be open to what God has in store.
Prayer for Employment
God, our Father, I turn to You, seeking Your divine help and
guidance as I look for suitable employment. I need Your wisdom
to guide my footsteps along the right path and to lead me to find
the proper things to say and do in this situation. I wish to use the
gifts and talents You have given me, but I need the opportunity
to do so with gainful employment. Do not abandon me, dear
Father, in this search; rather, grant me this favor I seek, so that I
may return to You with praise and thanksgiving for Your gracious
assistance. Grant this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.